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How you manage talent spells the difference between success and failure. To gain a competitive edge, leaders must be prepared to address shifting economic, social and demographic trends that impact workforce performance. Stay informed with research, insights and advice from our leading industry experts. The world of work is changing. Is your company ready?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Turn thought leadership into market leadership

When providing a complex solution and attempting to win the sale, you will confront key business challenges. The good news: if your solution is enterprise-wide, then you know your prospective client is seeking an experienced, trustworthy, and reliable business partner. The bad news (aka challenge): you need to deliver on the promise of being a truly innovative and game-changing thought leader.

Thought leadership involves some risk-taking. Serve your clients in ways that they never have envisioned. On occasion, that may mean pointing out the obvious. This forward-thinking and entrepreneurial style of leadership can uncover new opportunities and previously unexplored customer audiences.

Collaborating with a competitor? Some believe this heresy. Yet Fortune 100 market leaders do it all the time. Some call it “co-opetition.” Others look at it as strategic partnerships and win-win collaboration. When your client expects you to deliver the holy grail of market dominance, through some social media innovation or otherwise, be sure to uncover and reach out to prospects that, while right in front of their eyes, they are ignoring.

Many organizations also are still fumbling with social media. A recent HBR survey found that:
  • 75% of companies do not know where their most valuable customers are talking about them
  • Less than a quarter (23%) use social media analytics tools
  • Only 7% are integrating social media into other marketing activities, such as campaign management, retail analytics, CRM and business intelligence
Social media is one important marketing channel, but here is the reality: women buy or are the key influencers of nearly 80 percent of all consumer product sales in the United States alone. Are you doing what you need to reach them, and are they buying enough of yours?

Help your client connect with the world’s largest group of decision-makers. This may open a floodgate of previously untapped customers. Think outside and inside the box. This is the thought leadership your client expects and deserves.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Whose idea was that? Everyone’s.

Which deserves more reward – ideation or participation in idea formulation? Some organizations reward individuals for their ideas, while others believe it is better to reward participation in idea sessions.

Many leaders are reluctant to acknowledge that they are opposed to an idea because of their feelings about the individual who proposed it. While we live in a culture that celebrates individual contributions, we also desire reward for our own contributions to an idea's evolution and ultimate culmination.

Oftentimes, when one person drives their idea into action – and does not welcome ideas and feedback from others – it is doomed to failure. If you desire buy-in, collaboration, shared commitment and accountability, then give others the opportunity to offer their opinion and play a role.

While collaboration is invaluable, too much groupthink also presents a problem. How is the individual who brainstormed a new product feature (or new product) commensurately rewarded for his/her contribution? It is critical to share ideas with others and collaborate to deliver results.

However, when it comes to performance evaluations, a manager typically will review not only how much of a team player someone is, but also what s/he individually contributed. It is important to clearly articulate the organization's leadership model – i.e., what you value, your commitment to development and helping each employee succeed, and how successful performance is rewarded.

Both the employer and employee require an understanding about expected performance, results, reward, and the balance. If you, as manager, specifically and clearly define the terms for each employee's contributions and recognition, you will lay the groundwork for a high-performing staff and highly rewarding work environment.