The Fundamentals of Leadership for “First Line, First Time” Managers ™

Purple Cloud-01(Purple Cloud is a division of HITW Talent Management)

Smart Talent Management Workshops 2013 ONLY! 

A three day Managerial Workshop  for R 5995,00 per person (exc VAT). 

Smart, cost effective opportunity to make YOUR BEST BETTER!!!  You know that an  A-Team with a B-Plan is better than a B-Team with an A-Plan!    Build your A-Team = “First Line, First Time” Managers!  Great individual performers seldom become effective managers without the skills and knowledge to go above and beyond ……

The Workshops will be held at:   The Oval Office Park Newlands Building Sloane Street, Epsom Downs Bryanston, Johannesburg
This is an upmarket venue in the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg. Meals, refreshments, three workbooks and writing material will be provided.

2 workshops will be held as follows:

15–17 October 2013  OR
12-14 November 2013

WHAT?  (Key Areas to be covered)
• Role of a Manager
• Leadership Styles
• Interpersonal Communication
• Managing Meetings/Briefings
• 5 Stages of Effective First Line Management
• Induction / On-boarding of Staff
• Effective Delegation. Time Sensitivity, Problem Solving and Decision-Making
• Dealing With Poor Performance.
• Understanding Motivation – 10 Ways to Motivate Team.

Who Should Attend?
ü All first line / first tier managers
ü All  first time managers
ü Anyone promoted into management i.e. PA or Administrator
ü Team leaders, Call centre managers, Office managers
ü Supervisors, Foremen
ü Project coordinators and other team coordinators

WHY?  (Objectives)
The transition from individual contributor to manager can be difficult – knowing what to expect and how to deal with it allows “First Line, First Time” Managers ™” to adjust quickly and  transition into effective managers
Managers attending this course will learn how to:

  1. Create a culture of inquiry, actively involve more experienced team members, gain respect and commitment from direct reports and build moderate level of team cohesiveness
  2. Establish authority by improving expert and referent power, avoid micromanaging, and empower employees  as well as frame roles and responsibilities through increased self- knowledge, communication, and feedback
  3. Maintain personal relationships without alienating other team members
  4. Understand the importance of role and key result areas of performance.
  5. Assess leadership style and how it impacts on team.
  6. Perform the different leadership styles necessary to motivate individual needs.
  7. Assess team to understand their motivational needs.
  8. Plan, Organise and Implement tasks, to ensure workloads and deadlines are met.
  9. Produce a plan of action for monitoring performance.
  10. Set and agree goals, with a clear understanding of expectations.
  11. Understand the golden rules for giving and receiving feedback.
  12. Delegate effectively by using a proven, tried and tested system.
  13. Deal with poor performance in a positive manner to increase productivity.

Frances Kazan MBA (UK – 2005),  20+ yrs. of teaching, lecturing and training career seekers and managers –  Began teaching Accounting and Economics to Matrics, followed by start-up recruitment consultancies, to currently business coaching and talent management, focusing on organizational development and turn around strategies to reduce unwanted  staff turnover. She is also lecturing at well-known business schools. Frances uses gaming techniques to ensure the learning that takes place is translated in the workplace.

1. Welcome – Introduction, Check-in and Icebreaker
2. How to be a great manager through strong leadership
3. How to manage and organize your department to meet organizational goals

4. How to manage your employees and build a strong team
5. How to hire and retain the right people
6. How to deal with conflict, problems (diversity) and difficult employees

7. How to put it all together – delegate, manage time, solve problems and make decisions
8. How to get your point across through the art of business communication
9. Summary, FAQ  and Check Out

Don’t Delay – Build Your Talent Today!

Don’t miss this amazing window  to turn your “First Line, First Time” Managers into your A-Team

• Experience immediate improvement in employee performance  and  team cohesion
• Observe increased organisational productivity and better customer satisfaction

Maximum 15 people in workshop – first come first served!

CONTACT DETIALS: /   0833950292

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Its not who you know its who cares about you……

Do not stand in front of me, I may not follow,  do not stand behind me, I may not drive you,  but be beside me and just be my friend. Albert Camus

Who is standing beside you sponsoring your success? Affiliation is the name of the new game in town – its not who you know, not how many facebook friends you have or the size of your database, but who cares about you enough to recommend or introduce you to job/business opportunities that makes a difference to your success.  Show me your connections – not your social connections but your formal connections -those people who are happy to authentically endorse you and your offering and i will be able to assess your potential success …..

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The Art and Science of Presenting to Executives!!

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The 5 Levels of Leadership in Toastmasters

Last night I was award the Golden Gaveller Award by my Club, the Golden Gavel Advanced Club. It was truly an honour but also a surprise as I did not expect it.  Thank you Golden Gavel for this honour.

It got me thinking about Leadership and Toastmasters. For the first ten years of my TI life, I  was unaware of the benefits of the leadership track in TI. I was only interested in speaking, connecting and bonding with those like-minded individuals who have the same passion for self-development as I did.  Because I enjoyed the common ground found at meetings I powered through various committee roles, including President, as  there was no one else to do it, without paying heed to any learning, and thus missed out on a great opportunity to grow and develop true leadership.

I look back amazed at how much I have grown… but also how much TI has grown. Without a doubt this organisation has become a world leader in both communication and leadership development. With an excess of 270,000 members scattered across 14 global regions, found in almost every country on the globe, it is truly the best investment (each meeting costing the price of a Big Mac and Coke) you can make in yourself.  By attending a meeting at one of the 13,000 clubs, you are immediately part of a series of learn-by-doing workshops, which form a sustainable education programme that is based on  life-long, sound bite self-learning,

That is not all!! There is more…. Much more…   becoming visible only when you truly get involved in the leadership track which begins with completing of the Competent Leadership Manual.

We know that we live in complex world spinning out of control, everyone trying to do things cheaper, faster, better in order to compete for survival. We also know that many of the challenges facing the world today are the result of poor communication and toxic leadership.  Every man and his dog talks about leadership!  Everywhere you look there are books and seminars on leadership. Hundreds and thousands of rands and especially dollars are spent on leadership development – yet every day in every way we are live with the results of appalling leadership.

Why ?

Leadership is not a course you can go on, get the piece of paper and hey presto you are a leader!  Leadership is a process, a journey of self-development, passing through a number of levels of leadership.  Since I became the division governor, I realised how amazing the TI leadership journey is because it takes you step-by-step through all the levels of leadership …. Provided you follow the manuals and commit to carrying out our responsibilities reliably.  Attached is TI Leadership Levels to show how it works:

Three profound things I learn are:

  1. We don’t recycle leaders – leaders must keep growing, moving to new positions, designing visions, missions and toolkits to get us there, otherwise they become toxic in their style – we take on the leadership job for one year max (three if we are coordinators) and then we move on to make space for new leaders  – the minute a leader stays in the same position longer than the required period that is when problems arise, dictatorship sets in. Megalomaniacs suffer from the leaders for life syndrome, and we know what the result of that is.
  2. Immediate Pasts are the great mentors that keep this global organisation thriving – the immediate past presidents and the immediate past governors are our secret weapon, our Magic Mentors, our atomic missiles… their selfless giving is where servant leadership comes from
  3. Every level of leadership requires different skills to ensure success

With mounting complexity and interdependence and the increasing pace of change in organizational environments, leadership agility has become a much-needed competency. The ability to connect with others using many methods, is an essential trait for success. Keep learning, growing and adapting. Your journey of connecting with others begins now!


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People born in November most likely to be serial killers and schizophrenics

by Moyo Roy 2011 September 06 18:15:00
Researchers in the UK who have analysed the birth months of people in 19 separate occupations using information from the last census have come up with interesting results. The results appear to indicate that a person’s month of birth could make them statistically more likely to end up as a footballer – or a bricklayer.
In January, GPs and debt collectors were found to be the professions with the greatest percentage above the monthly average. At the opposite end of the scale, it is a bad month for sheet-metal workers.
A February birth appears to increase the chances of being an artist, and March is good for pilots, according to the study by the Office for National Statistics. April and May are said to have a fairly even spread of professions.
Meanwhile, births in the summer months mean a much lower chance of becoming a high-earning football player, doctor or dentist.
For those born in September the two occupations with the greatest percentage above average were sports players and physicists.
The two jobs least likely to be taken up by September babies were found to be bricklayers and hairdressers, while December is said to be rich with dentists
Certain jobs, notably chief executives of large companies and estate agents, are spread relatively evenly throughout the year. Children born in September are shown to have a significant advantage over August births in the early years of education, almost certainly because they were born at the start of the school year and are the oldest in the class.
Although these trends may be difficult to explain, correlations between birth months and specific health problems have a scientific basis. Researchers believe the month in which babies are born could affect everything from intelligence to length of life.
Spring babies are at greater risk of a host of ills, including asthma, autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. They may also be less clever than classmates born in other seasons.
Research suggests many of the differences are linked to a mother’s exposure to sunlight in pregnancy. Sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D in the body and lack of this in the first months of life may have long-lasting effects.
Speaking earlier this year Russell Foster, an Oxford University neuroscientist, said: ‘These are small effects but they are very, very clear. I am not giving voice to astrology – it’s nonsense – but we are not immune to seasonal interference.’
He added: ‘It seems absurd the month in which you are born can affect life chances, but how long you live, how tall you are, how well you do at school, your body mass index as an adult, your morning-versus-evening preference and how likely you are to develop a range of diseases are all correlated to some extent with the time of year in which you emerge from the womb.’

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The Most Important Question You Can Ask

 February 9, 2012 by Tony Schwartz

Why are you here? It’s arguably life’s most important question, but is it one you ask yourself?

I recognize it’s a question some people might view as self-indulgent, while others would see it primarily through a religious lens. But is there any part of an answer we could all agree on?

I’ve found a very simple one for myself, and it’s provided me in recent years with an increasingly powerful sense of clarity, inspiration and even joy. It’s this: I’m here to add more value to the world than I’m using up.

I use up resources every day — the gas I burn driving my car, the heat and electricity for my house and office, the food I eat. So how do I put more back into the world than I take out?

I spent the first 45 years of my life accruing value — trying to earn enough money to feel financially secure, sufficient success to feel respected, and enough relationships to feel safe and loved. I’m not especially proud of that, but I also know that some of my motivation was practical and human. Some of it, sadly, was compulsive.

To the extent that I felt I didn’t have enough, I didn’t imagine I had a choice about how to live my life. I was operating from a sense of deficit and I felt relentless hunger to fill that void, both financially and emotionally.

I was externally successful, as a journalist, but I didn’t feel particularly good about the work I was doing. Eventually, and fortunately, I finally hit a wall — a point at which I was so unhappy with my life that the desire to do something I deeply believed in eclipsed the fear of starting over in a completely new career.

Today, I resonate deeply with the parable of the faithful servant, from Luke 12:48, which ends this way: “To whom much is given, of him much will be expected.”

I have yet to meet any person who gets lasting satisfaction from earning way beyond what he needs. Accumulating more and more eventually, and invariably, delivers back less and less. It’s literally self-defeating.

I had the benefit of a comfortable upbringing, a great education, parents who modeled hard work and serving others, and people who believed in me along the way, even when I didn’t always believe in myself. I stood on the shoulders of many people, including ones who enjoyed far less good fortune than I did.

I believe in the law of reciprocity. Much was given to me. The reason I’m here, now, is to give back.

For more than a decade, I’ve had the amazing experience of waking up every morning excited to get to work. Partly, it’s that I have the freedom to do what I do best and enjoy most, and to keep getting better at it. Beyond that, it’s that I get to use my talents in the service of helping people build better lives and decrease their suffering.

The advantage I have is that I run my own business. What if you work at a job that doesn’t allow you to do what you do best and enjoy most, and that isn’t intrinsically inspiring?

At a company I frequently visit, there is a woman who works at the entrance and hands out the tickets for valet parking. She’s worked at her job for years. When I pulled up a couple of days ago, it was freezing outside, and she was all bundled up. Even so, when I got out of the car she greeted me effusively, as she always does.

She called me “Sweetheart,” she gave me a huge smile, and her energy lifted me up. As I was walking into the building, I heard her do the same thing for the next driver, and she sounded just as heartfelt.

This is a woman knows who she is, and why she’s here. She adds value in the world. She doesn’t for a moment let the limits of her job stand in her way.

I’m inspired by her. She reminds me that knowing why you’re here, and who you want to be, isn’t a part-time job. The challenge is to live out what you stand for, intentionally, in every moment.

I fall short, frequently. Who doesn’t? When that happens, my goal is to notice, as quickly as I can, to take responsibility for whatever I’ve done, and to make amends. I know why I’m here.

Reprinted from

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4 Signs a Sales Manager Can Recognize an ‘A’ player in an Interview

Posted by Dan Perry on Sun, Jan 29, 2012

One of the most challenging things to do as a sales manager is to determine if the person sitting across from you in an interview will be an ‘A’ player. Will he or she be the next superstar? Can this person ‘make it rain’? Can I rely on them to exceed their quota?

Sales Managers consistently ask me what tips or tricks they can use in an interview to ensure hiring an ‘A’ player. Since SBI has started measuring ‘Ramp to Productivity Failure Rate’ (aka: how many of your people hit their quota vs. how many fail and leave the company), it has slowly been increasing. Our median rate 9 years ago was 42%. It is now 52%. This means 52% of all new hires FAIL. This means over half of all new sales hires don’t make their quota in year one. Ouch.

The only true way to hire ‘A’ players is to have a robust Talent Management Program. This includes 5 major components: Talent Definition, Acquisition, Evaluation, Selection and Development. A good TM program will attract, select, retain and develop ‘A’ players.

Talent Management

But what happens when you don’t have a TM program? What happens when you are actually in the interview asking questions and listening to the candidate’s answers? What do you look for at the ‘moment of truth’?

4 Sure Signs that indicate an ‘A’ player:

#1 – Sense of Urgency. ‘A’ players have a high sense of urgency. They need to get it done NOW. Whatever it is; the longer it takes to accomplish the more frustrated they become. They are ‘A’ players because they challenge the customer. The build trust with the decision maker, not just a ‘good’ relationship. Challenging customers results in increased sales. The challenge comes from the need to expedite the sale. Thus, urgency is the opposite of compliance. You don’t want your sales people to be compliant.

TIP: Look for answers around impatience and 4th quarter comebacks. (Aka: Eli Manning and the New York Giants)

#2 – Enthusiasm. ‘A’ players are passionate about their work. They get up and stay excited all day. They love to sell and go through brick walls to do it. They have a real passion around selling and enjoy the hunt. (We call these wolves)

TIP: Notice answers around work ethic matched with excitement. Passion is a key differentiator between ‘A’ and ‘C’ players. If they mention how great they form relationships, kick them to the curb.

#3 – Keep it Simple. ‘A’ players have mastered the fundamentals. They don’t look for the next big product to help them make their quota. The sales process is used in every opportunity. SPIN selling is tattooed on their forehead. They actually use call plans on every client meeting. Simply put: They are professionals.

TIP: Ask questions around how they interact with their customers and how they prepare for sales calls. Listen for the use of these fundamentals and how simple they convey it is to sell. (We know it’s not).

#4 – Show me the money. Yes Jerry McGuire coined the phrase and almost everyone uses it (including us at SBI). It means to be money hungry. ‘A’ players want to make money. And the more money they make the better. Don’t ever think an ‘A’ player wants to ‘please his customers’. He wants to please them because it means more money.

TIP: Ask what his W2 was last year (what he made last year). He will know it to the penny.

Why should you spend the time weeding through average sales people to get one that’s an ‘A’ player? They exceed your ‘B’ player quotas by over 3x! This difference can set you up to make your bonus and get you promoted.

Below is a Quota and Talent Assessment we performed for a large organization whose stock price has risen 35% in the past 6 months. Notice all the ‘A’ players. The VP of Sales here has a strict Talent Management Process including the 4 steps mentioned above. The results are impressive.

Interviewing sales candidates is tricky. They are sales people and their job is to sell you on themselves. If they can’t sell you on themselves, what will they do with your customers? Make sure you look for these top tips to uncover ‘A’ players in your interviews. Your success is critical to hiring the top talent. These answers to your questions will tip you off on how successful they could be.

What are some other tips in spotting ‘A’ sales reps? Leave a comment for all to get these valuable tips.

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Three Skills Every 21st-Century Manager Needs

HBR Article – by Andrew L. Molinsky, Thomas H. Davenport, Bala Iyer, and Cathy Davidson  – Jan – Feb 2012

The world of work has changed dramatically over the past decade. Companies are more global and employee groups more diverse than ever before. Organizational structures are less hierarchical and more collaborative. And today’s networked offices are full of technological distractions that would have been unimaginable to the 20th-century manager.

We asked experts in cross-cultural communication, information networks, and the science of attention what specific skills executives should cultivate to tackle these new challenges. Here are their answers.

Skill 1: Code Switching Between Cultures

To work well with foreign colleagues, you may have to risk feeling inauthentic and Andrew L. Molinsky

Marco, the Italian COO of a technology company in Mumbai, can’t motivate his Indian employees. Anat, an Israeli management consultant working in the United States, struggles to give “American style” feedback. Seungwoo, the CEO of a Korean software firm with a new Shanghai office, has trouble retaining Chinese staffers. All three of these executives should be successful in their respective cross-cultural contexts. They all have what Mansour Javidan, of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, calls a “global mind-set”highlight “global mindset”; link: They are seasoned managers who appreciate diversity and have international work experience. They also have specific cultural intelligence: Marco knows that Indian workers are accustomed to leaders who are more authoritarian than those in Italy; Anat knows that most Americans prefer criticism couched in kindness over the blunt feedback she might ordinarily give; and Seungwoo knows that Chinese bosses tend to be more paternalistic than Korean ones. These three leaders are motivated to use this knowledge; in fact, their professional success depends on it.

So what’s holding them back? I’ve spent the past 10 years studying hundreds of savvy business professionals who were thrust into unfamiliar cultures or who work with foreign colleagues, and I believe that what Marco, Anat, and Seungwoo lack is a very specific skill I call “cultural code-switching”, the ability to modify behavior in specific situations to accommodate varying cultural norms. Code-switching requires far more than the right mind-set, information, and motivation. It requires a capacity to manage the psychological challenges that arise when someone tries to translate cultural knowledge into action.

Executives often feel inauthentic when their behavior conflicts with their ingrained values and beliefs, and doubly uncomfortable when others assume that it is a true reflection of who they are. They may also feel incompetent, anxious and embarrassed about acting in a way so far outside their comfort zone. Deeper down, they may feel frustrated and angry that they had to make changes in the first place. After all, managers don’t usually have to adapt their behavior to the needs of their subordinates; most often it’s the other way around. Together, these feelings can prevent executives from making a successful code switch, thus imperiling their careers and their companies’ success.

The good news is that it’s possible to overcome this problem. The first step is to diagnose the challenges you face. In Marco’s case, a deep belief in empowering subordinates was preventing him from embracing the top-down, often harsh leadership style that his Mumbai team seemed to need in order to meet deadlines. Whenever progress was so poor that he had to yell out directives, he felt guilty (“I shouldn’t treat employees this way!”) and ineffective (“I sound ridiculous!”).

The second step is to adapt your behavior to reduce your distress. That means making small but meaningful adjustments that are both appropriate in the new setting and true to your own values. It may mean electing behavior that blends elements of both cultures. Marco was able to find a middle ground between his participative European management style and the more authoritarian kind expected in India. He could be significantly more hands-on and assertive without yelling. Anat was able to give feedback better tailored to an American audience while retaining some of her direct, demanding Israeli style.

The third step is to fully appreciate the value of code-switching. One way is to focus on how the desired outcome aligns with your personal goals and values, even if the behaviors themselves do not. Marco knew that adapting his style in India would help him become a more effective global manager, which was very important to him. Seungwoo was able to ease up on his Chinese employees when he reminded himself how important the Shanghai operation was to future growth.

Another way is to view your code-switching from the perspective of the other culture, rather than exclusively through your own lens. Once Marco came to see that his employees actually valued his new management style, it became far easier to practice. Similarly, when Anat learned to appreciate the reasons for giving American-style feedback, her colleagues were hurt and demotivated by criticism delivered without praise, she could more easily change her approach.

Being culturally fluent means being able to enter a new context, master the norms, and feel comfortable doing so. In situations where executives perceive a serious threat to their competence and identity, they often show a strong psychological resistance to appropriate behavior. Learning to be effective at cultural code-switching is the key to becoming a truly global leader.

Skill 2 :  Weilding Digital Influence

As companies become less hierarchical, the effective use of online networks will be crucial to Thomas H. Davenport and Bala Iyer

Dharmesh Shah, the founder and chief technology officer of HubSpot, a web marketing company, has an impressive online network: He runs a 216,000-member LinkedIn group for entrepreneurs, hosts a Q&A community for start-ups on Stack Overflow, and has more than 98,000 Twitter followers. But even more enviable than the size of Shah’s network is how he uses it. During a recent hiring push at HubSpot, he tweeted about the company’s need for talented engineers and quickly received referrals for hundreds of candidates, several of whom he hired. On another occasion, while wrestling with an error-prone program for a new product, he asked his online followers for help. Within hours he received many suggestions, and one person provided instructions for debugging the program.

Most managers today understand how to use online tools to build and expand their networks. It’s easy to reach out to industry contacts and colleagues through LinkedIn and Facebook, to follow and be followed on Twitter, and to actively participate in corporate social media initiatives. Less well understood is how managers can use these networks to gather information and wield influence in an increasingly interconnected, collaborative, and less-hierarchical workplace. Shah provides a perfect case study, offering lessons that will help even executives outside the technology industry.

To build an effective online network, you need to focus, as Shah does, on three things: reputation, specialization, and network position. As in the real world, reputation is currency, it’s how you get people you’ve never met to seek you out, give you information, and collaborate with you. In the virtual world you build your reputation by offering interesting content, drawing attention to your web presence, and motivating others to circulate and act on your ideas. Reputation can be assessed using services such as Klout, Identified, PeerIndex, and Empire Avenue, which score you on the basis of how many people you influence, how much influence you wield, and how influential your contacts are. Shah has a Klout score of 80 (on a scale of 1 to 100).

He and other successful online operatives enhance their reputations and expand their networks by focusing on key areas of expertise. Shah’s are technology and entrepreneurship, topics that are central to each of his web ventures. Yours might be sales or HR or nonprofit management. Take Barry MacQuarrie, an accountant who set up acommunityon LinkedIn with the goal of understanding how social media could be used in his profession. It now has 1,800 users, who advise MacQuarrie on that subject. And prospective clients have found him and his firm through the group. Specialization involves demonstrating deep knowledge, establishing links with other experts both inside and outside your organization, committing to learn from them, and being willing to offer relevant information and referrals to others. Google+ and similar tools allow users to create “circles” or communities with shared interests; LinkedIn is fragmenting into specialist groups as well.

Although focus is important, the best online networkers also position themselves as bridges between otherwise unconnected groups. This can increase your influence, because it gives you a chance to identify potential collaborations or conflicts and to accumulate superior information. Shah, who graduated from the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, has access to MIT’s student and alumni networks as well as his start-up network. He can act as a broker between student ventures and VCs or between start-ups and talent, and can even find his own angel investment opportunities.LinkedIn MapsandTouchGraphenable users to visually examine their networks for connections, clusters, density, and redundancy.

Good networkers use their contacts as a source of quick feedback on, and even solutions to, work challenges of all sorts. We know a manager at an IT company who took advantage of internal social-networking technology to crowdsource reviews of a contractor he was considering. He discovered that the man had done sloppy work on a few recent projects and so chose not to hire him. If your network is strong, you are connected to well-placed colleagues, suppliers, customers, and fellow executives in your field, a host of experts who can help you at a moment’s notice.

Shah’s debugging challenge is one example. Consider also Michelle Lavoie, an enterprise community manager at the IT services company EMC, who used her internal blog to tackle an even bigger problem: how to cut costs during the 2008 financial crisis. “Constructive Ideas to Save Money,” her 430th post to the network, requested a moratorium on complaints about a controversial change in the vacation policy, offered five positive suggestions, and encouraged colleagues to contribute their own. A year and a half later the post had gotten more than 26,000 views and had generated 364 responses with cost-saving ideas, many of which were implemented. Lavoie gained visibility at every level of the company and ensured that getting EMC through the crisis was an all-hands initiative rather than a top-down edict.

You can also use your network to test proposals and strategies, inside and outside your organization. Float an idea and see how many “likes” it gets. Or direct certain groups of people to an online survey. The feedback might help you persuade a reluctant boss or client to come around to your point of view. These methods of exploiting strong virtual networks are only the beginning. Newer techniques, such as engaging your online contacts in work“games”so that they happily take action in your or your company’s behalf, are now coming to the fore.

Soon, we expect, organizations will begin to seek out employees with demonstrably strong online connections and a track record of wielding influence through them. The best networkers will become even more highly valued.

Skill 3 :  Dividing Attention Deliberately 

Instead of battling distraction, embrace your brain’s proclivity for Cathy Davidson

Seven IBM employees, each in a different location, are on a conference call. As two of them talk over the telephone line, two others chat about the conversation via text messages; another accesses a spreadsheet, trying to answer a question posed earlier in the call; still another Googles a potential competitor; and the last taps out an e-mail to a colleague who is not on the call. Are these employees distracted by 21st-century technology? Or has 21st-century technology empowered them to pay attention in a new, perhaps more natural, creative, and productive way?

We all know the story of contemporary distractions. In the past decade the world has gone from a total of 12 billion e-mails a day to 247 billion, from 400,000 text messages to 4.5 billion, from an individual average of 2.7 hours a week online to18 hours.We may still sit in offices or cubicles designed to shut out the external world, but the center of our work life is a computer that keeps us connected to that world, to colleagues, customers, clients, family, community, entertainment, and hobbies; to everything we know we should be doing and everything we know we shouldn’t.

Gloria Mark,a professor at the University of California, Irvine, has shown that modern workers switch tasks an average of once everythree minutes.Once their focus on a given task has been interrupted, it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to it. Some say we should try to eliminate those distractions. But I think today’s managers are capable of coping with and sometimes even thriving on them.

Mark’s research also shows that 44% of the switches cited above are caused by “internal” rather than “external” sources of distraction, meaning that our minds simply wander. We can’t blame technology for our failure to focus, because our brains are built to multitask. Close your eyes for five minutes and notice how your thoughts stray, jump, zigzag, and double back. Success in 20th-century factories and offices may have required paying strict attention to systematic tasks and taking those tasks to completion, but that is not a natural way for humans to operate. Perhaps our 21st-century connectedness gives us the freedom to acknowledge this.

Why should we make undivided attention an ideal and cling to it in an environment where it is so hard for us? Why not “unlearn” that skill, as the futuristAlvin Tofflerputs it, in order to let our brains work the way they do naturally? In my research on attention, I’ve come across many tools that help managers eliminate distraction. A productivity application calledFreedomlets you block the internet for a specified period, andConcentrateis a service that makes available only those programs you need for a specific task. The former Apple executive Linda Stone, who coined the term“continuous partial attention”to describe our habit of constantly scanning the horizon and never fully focusing on a given task, suggests simply turning technology off.

Such controls on information streams do help some people in some situations feel more focused and productive. But it’s not clear that their feelings reflect reality.A study of 300 workersconducted at the University of Melbourne shows that although people who use the internet at work for personal reasons assume it makes them less productive, it actually increases their productivity by 9%. That isn’t true for internet “addicts” who use social media to excess. But for those whose minds simply wander between work and play, a break to surf the web can provide a cognitive refresher that improves their performance when they return to the task at hand. This even has its own acronym: WILB, for “workplace internet leisure browsing.” Maybe managers will learn to embrace it as a positive distraction that relieves stress and boosts creativity.

Another productivity-enhancing strategy is to deliberately divide attention and harness it, just as those IBM employees did on their conference call. Charles Hamilton, an e-learning strategy leader at IBM, explains that his managers are more engaged in their virtual meetings because of the simultaneous text messaging (which they call “back chatting”) that has become standard practice; in fact, when the feature isn’t turned on, they start to worry that someone isn’t being heard. By encouraging these multiple conversations, managers marshal wandering minds. They also promote more-equitable participation in group calls, people can respond without interrupting, and ensure that the entire conversation flows in an interactive and productive way. Attention is “distributed” more evenly and fluidly, rather than being dominated by one or two loquacious participants who leave everyone else disengaged and distracted.

At the individual level, a good example is the software developerAza Raskin,formerly of Mozilla and now the CEO of the start-up Massive Health. Raskin knows he can’t spend all day, every day focused on only the most important tasks. But he sets limits on his divided attention by using two computers at his workstation and another down the hall. The work he must accomplish is loaded onto the first, most prominent device, with no internet connection. Off to the side is a machine that offers access to e-mail and the web. The third, a short walk away, is linked to Twitter and his blog, with a flashing reminder of the “real” work he needs to do back at his desk. His strategy is to make procrastination difficult but not impossible, because complete focus is beyond his reach, and not necessarily even desirable in today’s workplace. Raskin’s three computers help him program interruption and mind-­wandering into his day.

Not everyone has the same style or requirements for attention, so a good 21st-century manager needs to figure out how to let multimedia work to everyone’s advantage. Gazing aimlessly out the window is as important to creativity as logging on to Facebook to view the latest photo of your young nephew and then returning to work in a better, lighter, more productive mood. Research shows that accident, disruption, distraction, and difference increase our motivation to learn and to solve problems, both individually and collectively. The key is to embrace and even create positive interruptions.

In the future, continuous partial attention will perhaps be seen not as a problem but as a critical new skill. And maybe we won’t call it multitasking, we’ll call it multi-inspiring.

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Creative or Logical???

I  am confused!!!! A bit of both!!! in the morning I am the right brain … and by the end of the day I somehow become the left brain……


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The Power of Speech

Future is not where you are going to go..but what you are going to create!” Nancy Duarte believes that ideas are the most powerful tools people have. Her passion is to help every person learn to communicate their world-changing idea effectively. Nancy Duarte is an expert in presentation design and principal of Duarte Design, where she has served as CEO for 21 years. Nancy speaks around the world, seeking to improve the power of public presentations. She is the author of Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. Her most recent book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, was published in 2010.

From the “I have a dream” speech to Steve Jobs’ iPhone launch, all great presentations have a common architecture. At TEDxEast, Nancy Duarte draws lessons on how to make a powerful call-to-action.



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