Tag Archives: leadership development

We’re So Much More Than Books – Let Us Help You!

Because of the 20-year success of the First Friday Book Synopsis, I believe that many people think that is all we do.  We do much more than just synopses of books.  Here are many options that we have available to serve your company or association.  Please contact us at info@creativecommnet.com, for more information.


Ensure your audience leaves buzzing, “what a speech that was!”  We provide energetic, dynamic and focused presentations that are customized to send the appropriate message to your audience.  These keynote addresses are the perfect way to begin or end your conference or meeting, or for a general session for all participants along the way.


Are you looking for someone to give a speech of tribute for one of your honored employees?  What about the perfect address to mark a significant milestone for your organization?  We can research and deliver a presentation that will meet your needs and provide you and your audience with a memorable experience.


Our presentations provide just the right amount of humor to complement our message and provide the correct atmosphere for your organization’s meal event.  We have a wide variety of topics to customize according to your time and situation events.


Take your employees to C.A.M.P. with our exclusive system designed to identify specific competencies and opportunities for each position and role in your organization.  The resulting job profiles will assist your organization in establishing quality processes for selection, appraising and training your employees, as well as to implement a proper succession planning program.


We provide training in basic and advanced skills designed to develop strong management and leadership for members of your organization.  Whether you are looking for line managers to learn and practice the fundamentals of supervisory skills or principles, or for senior executives to enhance their ability to construct and execute a mission and vision for your organization, our customized approach will provide you the results you desire.


In this program, we work with managers who are not professional trainers to assist them in developing their direct reports.  Our focus is on equipping these managers with the skills, techniques and tools that allow them to train their employees on-the-job without relying upon internal or external trainers, consultants or costly conferences or workshops.  Each participant leaves the program with an executable training contact, custom designed for one of his or her own direct reports.


Do your salespeople sell or just take orders?  Your organization will experience gains in volume, profits, market share and efficiency after your salespeople implement these effective sales techniques.  In this workshop, your salespeople learn and practice five steps that are essential for effective selling and four steps to turn objections from reasons not to buy into reasons to buy.  Participants practice skill-based activities throughout the program, using materials that we customize based upon your organization and industry.


The units of your organization can function as a team after your participants learn and practice the behaviors associated with effective teamwork.  Our exclusive intervention techniques begin with an assessment of team readiness.  Based upon these results, we then place proper emphasis upon four dimensions of teamwork:  goals, roles, processes and procedures, and relationships.  Our sessions are energizing and highly interactive and are based upon research principles that many organizations have successfully modeled.


Let us help you prepare and fine-tune that important presentation by coaching you in the skills that transform a good presentation into a “great” one.  Whether your concern is in the content of your speech, in your delivery or your non-verbal techniques, we can move your presentation to the next level of confidence and audience acceptance.  Through our analysis of your presentation on video tape, we can pinpoint areas for improvement and development with great precision.  We can also attend your presentation and provide you with continued coaching and development in a follow-up.


Our customized training provides you with the listening and questioning skills necessary to obtain the information that you need in an efficient and effective manner.  We know that on many occasions, proper fact-finding questions can provide you with a proper diagnosis of a situation prior to suggesting any prescriptive action.  You can improve your ability to ask and use probing questions in a variety of contexts, including sales, legal, medical, technical, mechanical, and survey research.


It’s not the appraisal form that makes the difference – it’s the way that a manager communicates the content of the appraisal form in the annual meeting with his or her employees.  In this workshop, participants learn a variety of techniques and tools to establish a proper atmosphere, direct meetings, discuss ratings, introduce delicate problem areas, involve employees in a discussion, and link the content into a context for training and development.  We use the form approved by your organization as the context to discuss and practice these techniques.


Learn and practice techniques used by professional speakers that will take your presentation to the next level.  Whether you speak to audiences of 5 or 5000, we can help you polish the intricate facets of your presentation that will make you “top of the list” for repeat engagements.  We specialize in how to incorporate audio-visual accompaniments into your presentation smoothly and effortlessly.  We begin by watching you speak in person or on video tape and then meet with you to tailor a program to meet your needs.  Our public seminar, “Speak Up, Speak Out, Say It Well!” covers these principles on a general basis.


Our training focuses on constructing, delivering and answering questions from a behavioral interviewing perspective.  Behavioral interviewing techniques rely on past performance and events as the best predictors for future behavior.  Using your own resume, job description or other materials, we review your practice interview on video-tape to fine-tune your skills.  We pay special attention to the art of .asking and answering probing questions, which can make or break a successful interview.


This customized training program heightens your skill and confidence in using audio-visual accompaniments such as slides, overheads, flip charts, video tapes and brochures during your presentation.  We specialize in PowerPoint and Prezi presentations delivered from projection devices.  Our goal is to maintain a focus on you as the speaker, rather than on the presentation aids, in an effort to build a strong and credible presence with the audience.


Save yourself and others internal and external to your organization time and money by writing your materials once and where others read them only once.  Improve clarity, efficiency and effectiveness and get the results that you want from your writing.  Our individualized coaching program begins with our analysis of three brief and one extended writing samples that we assess against our exclusive writing principles.  We then meet with you to discuss our recommendations and follow-up, as necessary.  We also teach a classroom-style workshop, “Write Your Way to Success,” which emphasizes the P.A.C.E. structural format along with other principles, which lead to effective writing.

Leaders and their Conversations – Good Books Can Help

I read business books.  Along with my colleague Karl Krayer, I present synopses of business books.  These presentations help facilitate needed conversations.

I think a lot about how to think about the needs of leaders, and how to “plan” these needed conversations.  So, here is my latest visual take on this.  This one includes eight “conversations” for leaders to have, all revolving around “The Healthy & Growing Organization – Constantly Adapting and Innovating.”  The book titles are all ones that I have presented.  (Karl Krayer has presented other books that would further enhance these conversations).  And, please do not pass judgement on the “look” of this page – I am not a graphic designer, and I prepared this just to help me, and others, think about these issues.  Take a look:

Click on image for full view

Click on image for full view

Some suggestions:  Buy copies of these books for your leadership team, and read them together.  Such an approach is ideal – but some groups have discovered that “not everyone actually reads the books.”

So, another option — bring us into your organization to lead these sessions.
purchase our synopses of these books from our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  Each purchase provides you with the audio recording of our presentation from the First Friday Book Synopsis, held monthly in Dallas, along with our comprehensive handouts.  Some groups play the recordings (around 17 minutes), and then start their discussion.

Now, take a good look at the visual.  Whether you use these books or not, or this plan or not, wouldn’t a few sessions on these issues be really valuable for your team?


(Contact me by e-mail).

Here’s a Suggested Reading List for Leadership Development (for 2011) – Now, with Update

Let me help you plan your reading for 2011.

The issue is… Leadership Development.

Look at those words.  Think about them.  They say a lot.  Mainly they say this – leaders have to be developed, and leaders have to focus on, and work on, continual development.  This does not happen by accident.  Some leaders may be “born,” but most leaders are “developed.”

And one practice of ever-developing leaders is that they read.  They read books for the purpose of personal development.

I thought about all of this after a great conversation over breakfast with my blogging colleague, Bob Morris.  We talked about a lot.  We share a love of reading, we share a deep appreciation of good authors and good books, so we are probably a little “biased” in our view of leadership development.  But I think the evidence is on our side – leadership development does not happen by accident, and reading good books is a critical and time-tested path to leadership development.

So – assume that you are leader, and that you want to work on leadership development.  What should you read?  I’ve got a suggested list.  If Bob, or my First Friday Book Synopsis colleague Karl Krayer were to suggest a list, it would be a different list.  These are mostly books that I have read.  It is my list of “areas of focus.”  Some of these books are not new.  But they are all worth reading, and if you want to get serious about leadership development, I think this is a pretty good list to start with.

Of course, there are other areas of focus that need/deserve/beg for attention — and other truly deserving book titles.  This list is only a beginning…

So – here it is – my suggested reading list for leadership development.  It includes seven areas of focus, with a total of eleven books.  That is one book a month for 2011 (giving you either July or December “off”).  Whether you choose these titles or not; whether you choose these areas of focus, or not; this I recommend:  follow a leadership development plan.  It is worth the investment of time!

As you focus on: A good book to read is:
The Right Values True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (J-B Warren Bennis Series) by Bill George and Peter Sims
The Right Strategy The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by Roger L. Martin
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm by Verne Harnish
Effective Leadership (note:  this was a tough “focus” for which to choose the “best” book(s).  I absolutely would include this Kouzes and Posner book:  it is practical, and extraordinarily valuable). 

Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today by Susan Scott
Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Effective Communication Words that Work by Frank Luntz
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Functional, Effective Teamwork 


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
Cultivating Creativity and Innovation The Creative Habit:  Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson
Successful Execution Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

I hope you succeed at your attempts at leadership development in 2011.

Note:  this is not my first attempt to suggest a reading list.  Earlier, I posted this:  Build Your Own Strategic Reading Plan — or, How Should You Pick Which Business Book(s) to Read? It has other suggestions, for other areas of focus.

So many books…so little time!


Here are three ways we can help with your leadership development efforts:

#1:  You can bring me, or my colleague Karl Krayer, into your organization to present synopses of these, and many other books.  These synopses provide the key content, and facilitated discussion of the implications.  Contact me at .
#2:  You can purchase our 15 minute version of these synopses, with audio + handout, from our companion web site at 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  (Most of these were presented live at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Be sure to read the faqs).
#3:  Our blogging colleague Bob Morris is an accomplished business consultant, and can help your organization tackle these (and other) issues in an extended way.  Contact Bob directly at .


Update:  My blogging colleague Bob Morris, added some worthy volumes to this list.  Check out his expanded list by clicking here.

Here’s his expanded list:

The Right Values
True North by Bill George and Peter Sims

The Executive’s Compass by James O’Toole
The Highest Goal by Michael Ray
The Heart Aroused by David Whyte

The Right Strategy
The Opposable Mind by Roger L. Martin
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Unstoppable by Chris Zook
Enterprise Architecture as Strategy by Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson

Effective Leadership
Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott
Encouraging the Heart by James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Maestro by Roger Nierenberg
True North by Bill George and Peter Sims

Effective Communication
Words that Work by Frank Luntz
Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Influence by Robert Cialdini
The Back of the Napkin and Unfolding the Napkin by Dan Roam
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

Functional & Effective Teamwork
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman
Collaboration by Morten Hansen
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Cultivating Creativity and Innovation
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Freedom, Inc. by Brian M. Carney and Isaac Getz
The Idea of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation by Thomas Kelley
Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono
Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind by Guy Claxton

Successful Execution
Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki
The Other Side of Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble
Open Innovation and Open Business Models by Henry Chesbrough

Plus two additional categories:

Leadership Development

Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice co-edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana
The Talent Masters by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan
The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development co-edited by Ellen Van Velsor, Cynthia D. McCauley, and Marian N. Ruderman
Extraordinary Leadership co-edited by Kerry Bunker, Douglas T. Hall, and Kathy E. Kram

Employee Engagement & Talent Management

A Sense of Urgency and Buy-In by John Kotter
The Art of Engagement by Jim Haudan
Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Your Employees by Lee J. Colan
Growing Great Employees by Erika Andersen


The 10 Month Immersion In “Humanistic Studies” That Really Mattered – A Story From Yesteryear

Here’s a really interesting article.  This is one of those “I didn’t know about this, but I should have!” stories.

The article is entitled The ‘Learning Knights’ of Bell Telephone by Wes Davis, in the New York Times.  (in the top 10 e-mailed articles).  It is a story from the 1950’s.

The problem:
A number of Bell’s top executives, led by W. D. Gillen, then president of Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania, had begun to worry about the education of the managers rising through the company’s hierarchy. Many of these junior executives had technical backgrounds, gained at engineering schools or on the job, and quite a few had no college education at all. They were good at their jobs, but they would eventually rise to positions in which Gillen felt they would need broader views than their backgrounds had so far given them.

The sociologist E. Digby Baltzell explained the Bell leaders’ concerns in an article published in Harper’s magazine in 1955: “A well-trained man knows how to answer questions, they reasoned; an educated man knows what questions are worth asking.” Bell, then one of the largest industrial concerns in the country, needed more employees capable of guiding the company rather than simply following instructions or responding to obvious crises.

The solution:
Together with representatives of the university, Bell set up a program called the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives. More than simply training its young executives to do a particular job, the institute would give them, in a 10-month immersion program on the Penn campus, what amounted to a complete liberal arts education. There were lectures and seminars led by scholars from Penn and other colleges in the area — 550 hours of course work in total, and more reading, Baltzell reported, than the average graduate student was asked to do in a similar time frame.

There’s a lot being written about the failures of education.  And the question of “what kind of education is needed for the modern era?” is front and center for a lot of folks in business and in education.

But I think we are truly in crisis times, and the ethical center is not holding very well.  Here is how Mr. Davis ends his article:

As the worst economic crisis since the Depression continues and the deepening rift in the nation’s political fabric threatens to forestall economic reform, the values the program instilled would certainly come in handy today. We need fewer drifting straws on the stream of American business, and more discontented thinkers who listen thoughtfully to both sides of our national debates. Reading “Ulysses” this Bloomsday may be more than just a literary observance. Think of it as an act of fiscal responsibility.