The Immeasurable Gift of a Simple Thank-You Letter

As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, people start to rack their brains, scour the web, and sometimes agonize over what gifts, no matter how large or small, to give their family, friends, colleagues, and business associates.  Although I would wager that no one will completely eliminate this annual tradition of pre-holiday preparation, I can suggest a new tradition that might make it easier to “buy” for at least three people on your list.pen and paper 2

How many descriptively, meaningful hand-written thank you notes have you received? Usually the answers range from never to less than a handful. This year I hope to change that by suggesting a tradition that I started in 2011.  On a Thanksgiving road trip with my then boyfriend, now husband, I suggested we start an annual tradition of sending handwritten thank-you notes to a few people who had the greatest impact on our lives that year.  These less than a handful of friends, family, associates, authors, or public figures could have performed a service, shifted a paradigm in thinking, changed our life path, showed a kindness, or did something worthy of thoughtful recognition.

During a time when electronics rule, cursive is becoming hieroglyphics, and the depth of relationships is being sacrificed for width, the arrival of a handwritten thank-you note that describes the impact someone has made is guaranteed to be one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive.  Why not start the tradition to make someone feel appreciated?

If this concept sounds intriguing, I would suggest this perfect gift is no further than the pen and paper sitting in your desk drawer.   Spend some time reviewing the conversations and interactions you’ve had this year and select 2-3 people that are worthy of a shout out of praise in how they’ve impacted your life.  Get into the details as you write those letters.  Surprisingly, you may find that as you think of those people of influence, the gift you receive in return is one of gratitude.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

How to Successfully Transition from Field Sales to Sales Manager

sales manager 2Most sales manager positions are filled through the field sales pipeline.  Although sales person and sales manager both share the word “sales” in their titles, their roles, responsibilities, skills, and schedules are different unless the sales manager has the dual role of sales.  In fact, some highly successful sales people do not enjoy or make the best sales managers. However, if your expertise is sales, and you are now responsible for managing a sales team versus only yourself, below are some strategies that might set yourself up for success in your new role.

Organize Your Time

As a sales person you likely had one primary goal—meet your sales target.  As a sales manager, you will be managing multiple people, programs, and priorities. Multi-tasking will be required, because you will likely be pulled in several directions on a daily basis. Although everything will seem urgent, one of your most important assignments will be to manage and lead your sales team.

Leveraging a 2-month rolling schedule, you should block out time to travel with your sales people as they visit customers.  Treat this time as untouchable.  You will use this valuable time for those one-on-one conversations to strategize, coach, and invest in your sales people so they feel part of the team.  While spending time with them, keep the phone turned off to minimize distractions.  Spending time in the field will also allow you to get a pulse on the market, gather first-hand information on your customers, and strengthen your relationship with your sales team.

Manage Your Boss

If you were a sales person meeting your sales targets, you likely did not have to manage your boss. Your focus was managing your customers.  By default the numbers managed your boss.  Your boss likely left you to your own devices as he focused on more pressing internal demands.

In your new role as sales manager, you may need to manage your boss to minimize your daily distractions.  Using your calendar, establish a reoccurring weekly meeting with your boss—preferably on the same day and time of the week.  Agree to save items to discuss during this uninterrupted time. This ritual should help to minimize daily distractions that break your concentration.  Prior to your regular meeting, send an email listing the topics you agreed to discuss.  If you overlooked any or your boss has additional items, you can add them to the list and still have time to prepare.  One hour should be sufficient.  If you find yourself routinely short of time, agree to schedule separate meetings to discuss those weightier topics.

Exercise Your “No” Muscle

You were your customers’ advocate for price, quantity, quality, and service.   You were chartered and commissioned to sell.  Because you were conditioned to say “yes” to the customer, telling the customer “no” was likely a word that made you feel at least slightly uncomfortable.

A sales manager has a responsibility to weigh all the benefits and costs from the customers’ requests and make a decision that is aligned with the overall interest of the company.  Successful sales managers typically find they say “no” more frequently than they did as a sales person. Get comfortable saying “no,” yet be open to negotiation and compromise.

Build Alliances with Internal Stakeholders

As a sales person, you were by design externally focused on winning your customers’ business.  You likely spent little of your valuable time developing strong relationships with the internal stakeholders beside Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service.  The reality—no one in the office was buying the products you were selling.

The sales manager position is part of the company’s leadership team, and in order to lead well, you will need strong relationships with other members in Finance, HR, and Operations.  These relationships with other department leaders will make it easier to negotiate requests for deadlines and streamline work.  You are now an advocate for the sales staff, clearing the path for your sales team so they can meet their sales goals.

Putting It All to Work

Although these four guiding principles are not all-inclusive or a one-size fits all, incorporating some or all of these strategies will likely help you successfully transition from sales person to sales manager.  If you have any other suggestions that worked for you, I welcome your comments and stories.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Why OVER-QUALIFIED Can Deliver UBER-VALUE

Average life expectancy continues to climb with Americans in good health easily reaching their 80’s.  Age and financial necessity are influencing how long people are working and in what capacity.  Many seasoned professionals are trying to redesign their work/life balance and are surprised in how challenging the process has been to secure that desired lower responsibility job.

As a coach, I see many clients in their late 40’s and 50’s who have had a long and expansive career and are eager to either transfer their skills to another industry or gain back more work/life balance by applying for jobs in whichadding value they are knowingly over-qualified. These career or job changers initially assumed it would be easy to step down into a position of less responsibility.  On the contrary, they were surprised at the inherent prejudice in the hiring process when they routinely encountered managers who were not interested in interviewing an over-qualified applicant.

I can only assume that these employers are fearful of over-qualified candidates that will leave as soon as a better job comes along or that the supervisor feels threatened by the candidate’s experience in a direct report role.  For these reasons, many over-qualified candidates appear to be intentionally passed over.  I propose 5 reasons why hiring an over-qualified person may be the best hiring decision a company could make this year.

  1. Value, Value, Value: Over-qualified candidates understand a company pays for the roles and responsibilities of the position and not the qualifications of the person. If this candidate is willing to accept a competitive salary, a company is certainly getting more value for its money. What a great return on investment to report to the stockholders.
  2. Faster Growth: Having already seen and done that, over-qualified candidates may be able to get the team where they want to go faster.  Prior experience and learning can be helpful in developing a more effective strategy and in executing plans well.  Experience is a great asset!
  3. Mentorship: People who intentionally accept lower responsibility jobs usually enjoy mentoring less experienced colleagues. These over-qualified candidates are both knowledgeable and capable of becoming trainers and mentors to other employees without a great investment of other resources.
  4. Performance: Not only do these candidates bring a wealth of information, they are typically happier with their work/life balance. They bring an energy to work that can be contagious.  They perform well in their jobs and set an example for others.
  5. Leadership: Companies need leaders throughout the organization.  Leaders are the ones that companies rely on to rally the organization and get the job done.  Over-qualified employees inspire and support others to perform well and are usually the best cheerleaders on the team!

Not all over-qualified candidates will necessarily be a good fit.  I acknowledge some candidates apply for jobs they are over-qualified for based on financial necessity and continue to look for an upgrade.  There are, however, many overqualified candidates who are intentional in finding an environment where they can contribute despite a salary below their historical pay grade.  Identifying these over-qualified candidates, who bring uber-value, is best handled through a conversation versus making assumptions on why they applied for the position.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Leadership: Ten Strategies to Build a Winning Sales Career

Sales ABC

On occasion we get asked, “What one piece of advice would you give a person who has just accepted his or her first sales position?”  That is truly an unfair question.   How do you boil down the essence of sales leadership into one slice of a whole pie?  However, that question is worth an answer.  Our best response would be, “Engage a coach.” Why? Because partnering with a sales coach can build a firm foundation to use as a springboard towards success.

We would expect a coach to help you leverage the following:

  1. Define measurable goals: Select several meaningful one, three, and five-year goals that focus on financial targets and personal growth. Without measurable goals you won’t know the direction you’re headed or whether you’ve arrived at your destination.  People without defined goals typically meander and become disappointed in their lack of results.
  2. Focus on a vertical market: Good sales people are not all things to all customers. What area are you most passionate?  Join an association in that market and become the “go to” expert.  Consider certification or accreditation to bolster your expertise.  Make sure to understand the emerging trends and have a plan to take advantage of the opportunities and to navigate through the threats.
  3. Understand your customers: Ask powerful questions of your customers so you clearly understand their needs and what keeps them up at night. Be the solution seeker and problem-solver by offering answers that address their needs.  Customers partner with sales people who create and offer value.
  4. Know your competition: Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Strategize how you can navigate the competitive landscape to take advantage of their weaknesses by driving on your strengths.
  5. Build trust among your customers and industry colleagues: People do not do business with others whom they don’t trust unless there are no other options. Make decisions and exhibit behaviors that garnish trust.
  6. Leverage social media: Set up a LinkedIn profile that reflects who you are and what you offer. Share and publish articles that are relevant to your customers. Make sure your public Facebook represents what you want customers to know about you.  Be sure to clean up your social media of any “unwanted” posts.
  7. Establish a personal brand: When your name is mentioned in industry circles, what one phrase would you want to come to mind: “gets it done,” “always looks for the win-win,” or “sales leadership expert.”  Develop a personal brand based on your best assets.
  8. Grow your leadership: Learn from the best, get a mentor, and practice leadership.  One of the most powerful annual leadership conferences we attend is Global Leadership Summit (https://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership).  Strong leadership will not only build your sales it will build your life.
  9. Become a servant leader: Give of your time, talents, and treasures without expecting anything in return. When you do, don’t be surprised how people will respond to you.  People will want to spend time with you, recommend you, and help you be successful.

And last, but not least, you can always benefit by going back to school to…

  1. Relearn your ABC’s (Always Be Connecting): Selling is about connecting and one person saying “yes” to another. People rarely say “yes” to people whom they don’t like or trust. Spend time with your customers in casual settings getting to know them on both a professional and personal level.  Your calendar should be populated with customer lunch dates.

Every seasoned salesperson has one or two special secrets of the trade that may have contributed to their success; however, these fundamental strategies will build a solid sales career over a lifetime. Although every salesperson can try to implement these practices on their own, most would benefit from having a sales coach who can keep them accountable.


About the Authors:

HE21118Davis_07-medSandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in sales and new business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops on current business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Darin headshotDarin Dillon is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), 30+ year business development veteran, and active leader in the electronic security and integrated systems industry.  As a business leader, he has a passion for developing long-term customer partnerships and providing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies across many vertical markets. He can be reached at ddillon14@hotmail.com or 713.204.7035.

Leadership: Collaborating Across Generational Cohorts

Based on my birth date I am a confused Baby Boomer/Gen-Xer, because I sit in both camps depending on what study defines the age range for each generational cohort.  By my self-assessment, I primarily identify with the characteristics of the Gen-Xer.  However, no one fits all stereotypes, and I see my profile as a bell curve with my tails in the Boomer and Millennial camps.  What concerns me most about the current workplace dynamics is the lack of collaboration and appreciation that cohorts have for one another.  Has there ever been such an emotionally charged divide?

How Technology Impacts Generational Cohorts Attributes and Collaboration

Studies show that having the authority and left to their own preferences, people promote and invite into their ranks those who have similar values, interests, and styles.  What might this mean for all employees?  The likely assumption would be more cohort division and clustering of similar thinking and approaches.  When these dynamics are interwoven with current communication platforms, one would naturally forecast that there would be fewer cohorts sitting across the table from one another.  Does technology allow shared-thinking groups the ability to silo themselves and hang onto preconceived ideas and stereotypes?  Would the absence of web-meetings, working remotely, iPhones, call-in conferencing, etc. force the generations to collaborate and appreciate each other more?

No doubt, technology has expanded the width of our network, yet has it come at the expense of the depth in our relationships?  Companies bring more colleagues together through technology platforms, yet have they invested the corresponding resources to foster effective collaboration?

How to Build Bridges toward Collaboration

How can generations learn to appreciate and collaborate more with each other to deliver superior solutions?  Part of the answer involves understanding the impact of mindset.  Will people hang onto their beliefs and look for evidence to support how they feel, or will they choose to engage, brainstorm, and build a superior team?

Where would one start? First, acknowledge that technology will continue to be a force that shapes team collaboration across all cohorts. Second, appreciate that generational cohorts are shaped by their macros experiences that form their worldview. Third, be cognizant that people are individuals and some do not hold the same characteristics of their birthed cohort. Fourth, choose to respect and actively work with each style to extract the best of what it can contribute to the situation.

Gen CommunicationAs the table suggests, cohorts’ preferences differ in what and how to communicate, problem-solve, decide, and lead.  Most would agree that good communication is a key competency in influencing outcomes and achieving goals; therefore, colleagues need to answer three questions regarding their communication: (1) how much, (2) how to, and (3) to whom.

Given how technology has expanded access to information and communication platforms,  it should come as no surprise how cohorts’ styles and mediums have evolved.  Baby Boomers have a more guarded view of information and prefer face-to-face communication; whereas, Millennials are more collaborative and utilize social media to communicate information. Each style has its merits and drawbacks.  Millennials readily share information so teams can make decisions.  Baby Boomers prefer to make more decisions within their peer group and inform the team.  The argument could be made that the Millennials’ preferred communication style lends itself to better decision-making because of its increased diversity and inclusion.  However, the drawback is the increased risk that sensitive information would be leaked as more employees are involved in the collaborative process.

How to Collaborate through Consensus with the End Goal in Mind

Generational cohort preferences are rooted in human judgment in how best to work towards a goal.  For example, many of my work processes are classic Gen-Xer.  My leadership style takes the form of coaching, and when I am asked to lead a meeting, my first inclination is to create a PowerPoint slide deck to lead the discussion.

I propose that cohorts will only increase in collaboration when they choose to de-emphasize a preferred, prescriptive process and focus on developing the best way to meet the objectives.   Teams should allow their members some nonjudgmental space and flexibility to carry out their best work.  Every member must learn to appreciate and find value in the other work styles as well as remain flexible.  The surprise outcome may be the discovery of a hybrid team work style that delivers the right product at the right time.

Generational cohort conflict cannot be solved, because it is rooted in different values and worldviews.  Poorly led organizations ignore cohort differences.  The better organizations seek ways to manage this conflict, and the best companies leverage these differences to win.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ specific business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness

leadership selfawarenessMany clients want to know how they can become better leaders.  My typical response is to answer this question with a question: “Where would you start?”  Clients respond with “improve my communication skills,” “have a clear vision,” “give better direction,” and “build stronger relationships.”  No doubt all of these answers have elements that can contribute toward improved leadership.  Yet, these answers leave people still wondering, “How do I really start the process?”

I propose that a serious effort to grow leadership capacity starts with an honest self-assessment.  Until a client understands who he* is and how he shows up in the world, he will be challenged to sustain leadership growth. People should be aware of where they are, where they want to stand, and how large of a gap exists between the two.  A deep-dive into self-awareness allows one to determine how he presents himself to others, which reflects a combination of worldview, skills/competencies, knowledge, attitudes, and appearance/behaviors.  Clients need to appreciate how each dimension works for and against their ability to influence, so they can choose to change in ways that drives toward increased leadership.

As an example, a sales person struggles with securing new clients and business growth.  One of my priorities as a leadership coach is to help him understand his worldview, which reflects how he believes the world works or should work.  Where does he land on the continuum of “fate plays a major role in my life” versus “I control my destiny”?  If the client tends more toward fate, he may stop pursuing a relationship with a prospective client sooner than a salesperson who believes he controls his destiny.  The sales person, who believes he strongly influences his outcome, may not as readily accept defeat and find other creative strategies to bring on the customer.  Another worldview perspective to consider is “people must earn my trust” versus “people are inherently trustworthy”?  How might a sales person, who embraces either extreme, be perceived by a potential customer?  Answers to these and other worldview questions will likely determine how a sales person engages in the sales process and with his customers.

Worldview is only one dimension that influences leadership growth.  I encourage clients to take a deep dive self-assessment in the other dimensions. Once a client has established a personal baseline and defined his leadership goals, he can work through the change process.  Focusing on purposeful change to improve leadership also helps to build learning agility, which is an important skill to be competitive in today’s global market.

*[”he” or “his” as personal pronouns are also intended to reflect “she” and “her”]


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Coaching: How to Calculate Your Return on Investment

Coaching ROI 10Have you thought about the return on investment (ROI) of personal coaching? I would probably guess not as this investment decision is somewhat analogous to the early days of personal computers.  With every new product or service, there is a small portion of the population who are the early adopters.  In the case of computers, they were likely the technology gurus, who were excited to upgrade their TI or HP hand-held calculators for 256 kB of desktop memory.  I propose this analogy parallels personal coaching.  There is a small portion of the population who are driven towards self-improvement, so hiring a coach is a no-brain decision.  What about the others?

In the early 1980’s, when IBM computers were first launched, companies struggled with the financial decision of whether to buy their employees personal computers. They intuitively knew their employees would be more productive, but did not grasp how to calculate a ROI.  Is personal coaching following the same path? Most people believe they would benefit from coaching, but they struggle with how to justify it.

How much would you pay for coaching services if you thought you would get promoted within the year, add an extra 10% to your base salary that carries forward for 20 years, or have more job opportunities?  What value would you place on coaching services that solidified your performance in a position where you felt overwhelmed? Can you calculate that value and weigh it against the cost?  What about the intangible benefits such as greater fulfillment and your impact on others.  An increase in your leadership abilities helps others lead better.  Accurately measuring all the downstream benefits would prove difficult, so I suggest focusing on what can be measured and let the unquantifiable extras be the cherry on top of the sundae.

My 5-step process to calculate coaching ROI involves answering a series of basic questions to define the opportunity, determine the gap, measure the performance, and calculate the value.  These steps are:

  1. Define the need/opportunity and determine the gap
    • What specifically do you want to accomplish?
    • What is your baseline?
    • How big is the gap?
  2. Calculate the benefit
    • What are the parameters that need to be addressed that will deliver value?
    • What is the quantifiable value if the performance gap is closed?
    • Is the growth in value linear, exponential, or binary?
  3. Develop a coaching approach
    • What is the coaching strategy and tactics to achieve the target?
    • How will progress be measured (the metrics)?
    • How frequently will progress be measured?
    • Who will be responsible for collecting and reporting the data?
  4. Implement the coaching plan
    • What is working well?
    • What needs to be adjusted to meet target?
    • What is the interim analysis and value?
  5. Calculate the ROI
    • What is the total cost?
    • What is the monetary value of the improvement?
    • What is the ROI (net benefits/coaching costs)?

Putting this model into practical use, a client may have a goal to develop and lead more effective project meetings.  After a review of the client’s work and process, the coaching plan may focus on strategies and tactics to improve preparation, organization, and execution that results in fewer, shorter, and less attendees needed at all meetings.  The costs savings is easily calculated by the reduced man-hours in meetings multiplied by salaries over the project life.  The true cost savings are immeasurable as the upgrade in the client’s skills will carry forward into future projects.

When was the last time you attended a meeting and wished the meeting leader was better at preparing himself and the team as well as more effective in leading the meeting and staying on task? Ask me how I can help? The ROI is off the charts.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Networking: How to Think of It as Fun When You Think It’s Not

Networking 5You probably read the title of this article and don’t necessarily agree that networking is fun, but you were intrigued enough to read more.  If you don’t think networking is fun, we probably have a different definition or approach.

I know plenty of people who are highly networked and consider it a necessity of doing business, yet I know far more who say they need to start networking in case they lose their job.  Sadly, many people don’t practice networking until they need something such as a job lead, referral, or recommendation.  Networking then becomes a fearful activity as they live in a tight time frame to secure a job while managing the risk of rejection.

I propose that the definition of networking extends beyond a job and the industry connections where one earns a living.  Networking is a life skill and a fun one to practice across all life relationships. Why?  Because networking is not about asking for anything but about giving to others.

People were designed for networking, because people were designed to be in relationship with one another. Networking is about building and sustaining relationships. People get off track when they approach networking as a give and take or a score to be kept. Ninety-nine percent of networking should be giving and blessing others without the expectation of receiving anything in return. When we give, how can we be rejected? If you approach every contact as an opportunity to help, you will be surprised how your relationships strengthen.

So how do you start networking with sincerity?  Ask powerful questions to learn more about people, where they are from, and their interests.  You might find some interesting common ground off which to build.  You might deepen the conversation by asking “-est” (extreme) type questions such as: 1) What is the biggest challenge you have faced? (2) What accomplishment are you proudest? and (3) What is your best piece of advice?  You may then ask, “How can I help you?”  You’ll be surprised how easy and fun it is to have a conversation when you only have a desire to connect and serve.  When you do eventually find yourself in a position of need, you may find that your network turns around and asks you, “How can I help you?”


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Leadership: How to Help Curb iPhone Distractions During Meetings

iphones.jpgAs a leadership coach, I hear clients express annoyance that they cannot lead an hour-long business meeting without attendees looking at emails, texts, or other information sourced on their iPhones.  Some senior leaders even resort to posting a sign on the conference room door that reads “no iPhones, this meeting” or “check your iPhones.”  In my opinion, those leaders are putting a Band-Aid on wound instead of addressing its cause.  You may be thinking, “We can’t take away our employees’ iPhones.”  I agree, however, what I am proposing is that leaders pause and question what they are contributing to the problem.

Spend a few moments and reflect over the past month on the meetings you attended and did not lead.  After the meeting concluded, how many times did you say to yourself at least one of the following statements:

  • “That was a non-value-add meeting.”
  • “I’m not sure what the point was of that meeting.”
  • “We hardly accomplished anything.”
  • “We could have taken half the time to discuss what we did.”
  • “Wish we could have a meeting where we don’t get off topic.”
  • “I don’t know why I was invited to that meeting.”

My guess would be that at least half the meetings you attended had some elements of the above ineffectiveness.  In these meetings, were you bored, sneaking peaks at Facebook and returning emails and texts? If so, what did these meetings have in common?  I would propose they lacked one or more of the following:

  • A defined or succinct purpose
  • An upfront definition of what decisions, if any, needed to be made before leaving the meeting
  • An agenda and topics clearly mapped to scheduled time

When leaders have not clearly defined the purpose and the decisions that need to be made during their meetings, they typically invite more people than required as a means of covering all bases.  When a leader does not prepare well, invite the right people, or conduct the meeting effectively, attendees will naturally disengage.  It is the leader’s responsibility to prepare and lead a meeting in a way that the right attendees will choose to participate.

How can a leader lead an effective meeting?  Consider the following:

  1. Define and clearly articulate the purpose of the meeting (i.e. information, brainstorming, or decision-making).
  2. State at the beginning of the meeting what decisions need to be made by the group before the meeting adjourns.
  3. Issue an agenda with items #1 an #2 at the top as well as the topics that will be discussed, who will lead them, and how much time has been allocated to each activity. When possible, issue the agenda several days in advance, so attendees can prepare and ask any questions.

When leaders develop and clearly communicate their meetings’ purpose and decision requirements, they can more easily determine who needs to attend.  Distributing an agenda in advance helps to set expectations and gives attendees time to prepare. Assigned prereading can reduce meeting time as attendees are current on the topic. Meeting time can then be productively used to answer questions, debate, and build consensus.

I acknowledge that some employees’ technology addiction can undermine even the leader’s best meeting management. These cases warrant a conversation outside of the meeting.  Strong leaders are comfortable in respectfully addressing meeting behaviors that undermine team performance.  Strong leaders also welcome feedback.  One of the best closing questions a leader can ask before dismissing the group: “How could this meeting have been more effective?”


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in business development and leadership.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ specific business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Agility Is The New Must-Have Work Competency

Leaders Agile ChangeAs the speed and impact of technology continues to advance, agility is the new must-have competency that many employers are asking of their employees and screening for in their new hires.  Agility has become as important as the those “bread and butter” competencies of personal initiative, concern for effectiveness, enthusiasm for work, and excellent communication skills.  Many people assume agility is the same as flexibility, but I believe agility demands a performance level that leaves the typical definition of flexibility in the dust.

Flexibility as a work competency refers to the willingness and ability of employees to respond to changes in their job expectations and work environment.  It is a reactive competency, and certainly valued by employers, who understand that in general human nature resists change and prefers predictability.  I propose that agility is a proactive competency and defines how employees approach and carry out their work. Agile employees expect change; therefore, they anticipate rather than react and have developed ways to organize and adapt to deliver transformational results.  Great leaders coach change management and help their teams grow their agility quotient, so they can continue to innovate in a volatile and complex business environment.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, leadership expert, and consultant with an extensive background in business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates specific workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.