Are my data protections sufficient?

Bank VaultAs an independent consultant, I have always believed I treated client and personally-identifiable information (PII) data as confidential and kept it secure. I am well trained and experienced in information security. This means I have multiple encrypted backups onsite and off, strong passwords, DoD-grade disk zappers, firewalls with segmented networks, anti-virus/malware tools, fire/data safe, and crosscut shredders. I use HTTPS everywhere and encrypt files I’m sending over email or ftp or storing on devices or in the cloud. I keep all of my software updated at all times. I am probably forgetting a few more safeguards, but an exhaustive list is not my point.

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Intangibly Delighted Customers

interviewImageManaging intangible assets such as branding, people, knowledge, or operations can raise or lower corporate valuations and customer satisfaction. Well-managed intangibles set apart the excellent corporate leader from the acceptable managers and unwelcome bosses.

Customer delight and its ensuing loyalty impels customers to return often and spend more on products or services. Continue reading

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Effective Leadership Practices

peterDruckerOver a decade ago, the legendary Peter Drucker enumerated eight practices he observed in effective leaders:
  1. Ask: “What needs to be done?”
  2. Ask: “What is right for the organization?”
  3. Develop action plans.
  4. Take responsibility for decisions.
  5. Take responsibility for communicating.
  6. Focus on opportunities rather than problems.
  7. Run productive meetings.
  8. Think and say “we” instead of “I.”

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Brief Team Charters Provide Key Guidance

gearsInCloudBannerA team charter clarifies team direction and establishes a scope of operations. It could be a foundational document for a project team, sales team, consulting group, line-of-business department, or any other set of workers closely tied to a slice of an organization’s strategic operations.
The team charter has two primary audiences. First, it serves to illustrate the team focus and goals to the members. Second, it informs stakeholders outside the team (for example upper management and other teams) about the team’s purpose, activities, and possible interfaces across the organization. Publishing a team charter reduces confusion about the group’s objectives, setting the stage for individual and team performance management. It also provides information potentially reducing the risk of rework and scope creep, enabling the team to do the job right the first time while staying on schedule.

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Daily Questions Exercise

exerciserunningExecutive coach Marshal Goldsmith uses a daily activity to help trigger positive actions for leaders, managers, or just about anyone. In a recent podcast I heard, he suggests having time set aside every day for this activity. Further, he says it is best if someone else prompts you with your questions each day and listens to, or reads, your responses in person, on the phone, or by email. Goldsmith himself pays someone to call him daily to keep him on track with his questions. He recommends these six basic questions for everyone:
  • Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  • Did I do my best to make progress towards goal achievement?
  • Did I do my best to find meaning?
  • Did I do my best to be happy?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  • Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

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People First Leadership

leaderGroupPeople first leadership involves a framework of three interlocking principles:
  • Products or services cannot be created or delivered without people.
  • Capital or other benefits cannot be raised, achieved, or earned without the products or services deriving from the efforts of people.
  • Leaders exist to facilitate and enhance the efforts of people.

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Counseling Team Members – An Important Leadership Skill


Counseling is possibly the most misunderstood and badly practiced team leadership skill.  For example, mentoring, training, and performance coaching can each involve counseling as a non-directive leadership skill.  On the other hand, counseling as part of an employee disciplinary process is not a leadership skill, but a directive personnel management technique appropriate to supervisory roles.  Leader counseling focuses on reinforcing desired behavior while supervisory counseling focuses on re-directing undesirable behavior.  Some techniques applied for each type of counseling are very similar, but this conflict between the goals of counseling in leadership development and operational management causes confusion and poor application of the skill.
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