Archive for May, 2009

We`ve all heard the phrase a “flash of inspiration” or a “flash of brilliance”

We`ve all heard the phrase a “flash of inspiration” or a “flash of brilliance”. I don`t know where those phrases came from exactly, but they create a perfect metaphor.

Think about the flash from a camera (or if you are old enough, from a disposable flashbulb).

Some spark or electrical charge provides the impetus for the flash to go off. At that precise moment the camera takes a picture, capturing the moment more effectively and more vividly because of the flash. Once the camera has created the picture (with the help of the flash) you can look at it and eventually, if it is a good picture, you will share it with others.

I`m suggesting that we think about our ideas – our “flashes of brilliance” – the same way.

The Four Steps to Capturing Your Brilliance
Just like the camera needs its flash, you also need your flashes. And just like the camera, you must use them correctly. Let me get a little clearer and a bit less metaphorical.

Step 1 – Ignite it. To take pictures, the camera sends an impulse to the flash unit to ignite the bulb. Your personal ignition switch is more subtle and not always so immediate. You will ignite more flashes when you have a clear goal. When you know what you want to achieve, and why, you set your subconscious mind searching. With your goals in place, you can use your skills and habits of observation and asking questions to ignite more ideas.

Step 2 – Capture it. The camera captures the image at the same moment the flash goes off. How often have you had an idea – a flash of brilliance – and lost it almost immediately? Your flashes are of no use (and may become a source of frustration) if you don`t capture them. You must write down your insights and ideas immediately! Your subconscious mind has found an answer and if you don`t get it captured, it could be gone forever. You can use a journal, a post-it, a napkin or whatever. Just get your ideas down – you won`t regret it!

Step 3 – Review it. After you`ve taken a picture you look at it (that`s why you took it in the first place, right?) With digital cameras today you can review your pictures immediately. You can do the same for your ideas. Once you have written them down, you can look at them now AND later. I suggest you do both. Looking at your idea, solution or brilliant flash now helps you lock it into your mind, and lets your mind keep working on it. Looking at it later helps you reflect and determine exactly how you will use this idea, if at all.

Step 4 – Use it. If you decide the picture is good enough, meaningful enough, funny enough or important enough, you share it with others. After all a good picture is defined in part by whether you want to share it. The same is true for your ideas. If they are good enough you need to share them, which really means try it or put it to use.

These four steps will help you get more flashes, and take much better advantage of them when they strike. Whether the idea you find makes a new recipe, a new product, a better weekend or a better workplace, none of them will be of any use if you don`t put them to use. Using this metaphor and these four steps will make a difference in your results!

Of all the free team building ideas that are discussed in workshops, training sessions, and every corporate workplace book, some of the most valuable (but most intangible) are old-fashioned values

Of all the free team building ideas that are discussed in workshops, training sessions, and every corporate workplace book, some of the most valuable (but most intangible) are old-fashioned values. For example, fairness in the workplace can mean more to your team, and more to the long-term success of your work from home business, than all the team-building games and recognition programs in the world.

According to a 2008 workplace study, fairness in the workplace offered 2 concrete benefits to the employer:

1.    Employees who felt they worked in a fair workplace were more likely to engage in behavior that benefitted others at work, such as helping a co-worker finish a project on time.
2.    Employees who felt they worked in a fair workplace were more likely to engage in behavior that benefitted the organization as a whole, such as staying late to finish a report on time.

Since fairness can play such a beneficial role in building your team’s morale and in benefitting your company as a whole, let’s discuss how you can incorporate it into your home based company.

Fairness Starts with Leadership

As an entrepreneur, you have a tremendous amount of influence on how your company is perceived by your employees. So it’s safe to say that fairness starts with you. As the leader of your company, it’s crucial that you make equality your top priority. Make sure that your behavior can be modeled by your employees. For example, if you know that you will not be able to deliver a product on time, be the first to offer a truthful account of this to the customer. Offer to rectify the situation in a manner you can afford. If your workers see that the buck stops with you, they are more likely to emulate that behavior.

Engage in Fair Behavior

The best leaders engage in behavior that promotes fairness: explain, clarify, and be transparent.  Always explain why you are doing certain things (such as a new sales program) to your workers. If they have questions about procedures, then be the first to clarify matters. Always aim for transparency–if you have nothing to hide, then there is a huge likelihood you are being honest. Honesty is the basis for fairness.

Go for Equity, But Be Flexible

Obviously, some situations warrant special consideration. If you have a strict no tardiness policy, you may have to dock habitual latecomers. But what if you have an employee who has a temporary problem with day care for her children? She needs to come in late for a week and a half until the problem is rectified. What can you do?

In this situation, you can be lenient with this employee while explaining the situation to your other workers. Explain that you understand that emergencies happen, and that for a week and a half, this employee will be coming in later than usual. This allows the other workers to understand the situation without assuming she is being given preferential treatment–or that the tardiness policy is suddenly meaningless. It also allows you some flexibility with your employees, allowing you to treat everyone fairly without forcing everyone to conform to an unchanging set of rules.

For years, people dream of becoming the boss

For years, people dream of becoming the boss.  They think that once they wield all of that glorious power, they’ll be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, with few real consequences.  Unfortunately, this pipe dream isn’t really the case when you reach the top.  Once you become the actual boss, you have to start worrying about a whole host of things that you didn’t have to care about back when you were a lowly minion.  For one thing, you’ve got to try to keep your employees motivated.  Doing this means walking a thin line of love and hate.  The hate part is simple: make them fear your wrath.  The love part is not so simple.  One of the most important ways to make your employees work for you is by giving them little pieces of your appreciation.

In Cheap Christmas Gifts for Co-Workers, the folks over at Creative Christmas Gifts and Gift Ideas offer nine excellent and affordable gift ideas for colleagues in your office.  While some of the ideas are quite obvious (plants, for instance, are always a safe bet and offer the added benefit of showing you whether a person starts devoting more time to the plant than to their actual work), others are not so obvious (key chains are some of the best office gift ideas because they constantly remind your co-workers who they work for).    Because we know you’ve still got a tight budget (Hummers ain’t cheap, baby!) and time is of the essence (Tee time 3:45 pm!), most of the gift ideas in this article cost less than $5 and can be picked up easily on your way to or from the office.  Also, check out this article for more Christmas Gift Ideas for Under $5,which includes a number of excellent DIY Gift Ideas to boot.

The only true measure of leadership quality is effectiveness

The only true measure of leadership quality is effectiveness. Effective leaders are consistent, they know what works, and they know what doesn’t. As a result, they foster positive and creative work environments, deliver measurable and sustainable results, and maintain the ethical integrity of the workplace. Effective leaders are aware of their personal, creative powers and how the forces of apathy affect people and the organization.

There are six essential qualities effective leaders possess that help their organizations overcome the comfort zones of apathy:

  1. Effective leaders believe in people. High expectations and belief in people are the key characteristics of effective leaders.


  1. Effective leaders attract employee involvement. Effective leaders are aware of the vital issue of expanded involvement.


  1. Effective leaders communicate effectively. Effective leaders are aware of the importance of both feedback and exposure in their communication style.


  1. Effective leaders use real motivators. Effective leaders are aware of how to use the personal, internal motivations of people in support of the common good of the organization.


  1. Effective leaders know how to share power. Effective leaders exercise power appropriately by sharing it.


  1. Effective leaders use the most effective style of leadership. Effective leaders learn and use the “Developer” style of leadership.

Can effective leaders really make that much of a difference? Are they worth the investment?  Painting a primer coat of paint on a metal surface takes time, investment, and work, but it protects the finish coat from rust over the long term. In the same way, the organizational focus on effective leadership at every level of the organization is the key to the excellence and sustainability of the organization.

Successfully moving an organization to the next level is difficult, if not impossible, without the driving forces of excellence and sustainability. If they represent the wheel of the effective organization, then effective leadership is the hub of that wheel. Effective leaders at every level of the organization will do the following to promote excellence and sustainability:

  1. Foster positive and creative work environments. Positive and creative work environments usually describe an effective corporate culture.


  1. Deliver measurable and sustainable results. Effectiveness is the only true measure of action, and effective leaders consistently choose effective actions supported by measurable results.


  1. Maintain the ethical integrity of the workplace. Effective leaders maintain the ethical integrity of the workplace by consistently avoiding the comfort zone of self-centeredness.

You can learn to be an effective leader — and overcome organizational apathy!

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