Archive for the ‘Training’ category

Some Things Don’t Change

September 8, 2009

Today’s businesses, communities and leaders are all about change. The business media, the popular press and even many recent issues of Leading Effectively have focused on the fast pace of change, the need to adapt and the challenges of leading in times of great uncertainty. All the talk about change might have you believe that leadership itself has completely transformed, too. David Campbell begs to differ.

Campbell, whose groundbreaking work on career development made him renowned in the field of industrial and organizational psychology, is a CCL Honorary Senior Fellow.

Reflecting on a long career working with leaders from around the world, Campbell shared 21 observations of leadership with readers of his publication. His comments include:

  1. Leadership can be taught, or at least learned. I am also fairly certain that it can be stomped on fatally.
  2. A definition of leadership that makes sense to me is, “Actions that focus resources to create desirable opportunities.” I have been using this definition for years, but no one else seems to be impressed by it.
  3. The world will inevitably focus on the frailty of the leader. If a leader scores a 9 on a 10-point scale, the 10 percent gap between reality and perfection will be what draws public attention — but, as the English say, better a diamond with a single flaw than a perfect pebble.
  4. Creative leadership is distasteful to most organizations; it almost always creates unwelcome turbulence. The status quo will usually reign or, perhaps, suffocate. Leaders who attempt to be creative either have to be brilliant or be completely in control. It helps if they are both.
  5. People in charge will hang on too long.
  6. Two basic dimensions of leadership — task orientation and relationship orientation — have constantly appeared and reappeared in the leadership research literature. Both people and productivity are important.
  7. Sooner or later, and it is often sooner, almost all organizations will demonstrate dysfunctionality. Even the simplest organizational tasks escalate in complexity over time, creating either bad feelings or poor performance. Simply assigning parking places or getting the coffee pot cleaned daily will eventually lead to friction.
  8. Poor leadership is far more visible from below than from above, which means that in most organizations, those responsible for evaluating leaders — usually their superiors — are poorly positioned to do so.

Printed with permission of Center for Creative Leadership. Adapted with permission from Leadership in Action, Volume 28, Issue 4, 2008; Copyright (c) 2008 Jossey-Bass Publishers/A Wiley Imprint


How do I Become a General?

August 31, 2009

By John Riley

This commentary is for the young businessman or woman starting a career. It is an attempt to answer the foremost question in his or her mind, “what is the secret to success?”  I offer it here because it is so profound and  so true.

 Former Secretary of State and four-star general Colin Power recently related a story he learned while a young infantry officer at Ft. Benning in an interview by Fortune Magazine July 6:

 “There was a brand new second lieutenant who  was very ambitious and wanted to be a general. One night at the officer’s club, the young officer spotted this old general sitting at the bar, and he went up and said, ‘How do I become a general?’  And the general Answered, ‘Son, you’ve got to work like a dog. You’ve got to have moral and physical courage. There may be days when you’re tired, but you must never show fatigue. You’ll be afraid, but you can never show fear. You must always be the leader.’

 “The young officer was so excited by this advice.  ‘Thank you, sir,’ he said. ‘So this is how I become a general?’  ‘No,’ said the general, ‘that’s how you become a first-lieutenant, and then you keep doing it over and over.’

 After telling the story, General Powell added, “Doing your best in the present has to be the rule. You won’t become a general unless you become a good first-lieutenant.”

 For anyone entering the job market in today’s business environment, this is sound advice.

Boss, Promote Me! I’m Ready.

August 25, 2009

By John Riley

 When an employee raises this issue in a performance review, it’s usually not a surprise because the boss  is thinking the same thing about her career. But, for both the timing isn’t right. Faced with an uncertain economy, executives at companies  large and small have reduced staff and heaped more responsibilities on surviving managers at all levels, frequently without compensating them financially or with a new title. In the process, managers seek to cope by working longer and harder.


 However, there is a better way.  Deliver a performance the executive management  can’t ignore.

When that happens, you will break out of the pack and be on the fast track to promotion.

 What I am suggesting is that you concentrate on mastering four skills: organization and planning, communications, managing people and problem solving.  Working within the company culture and on work teams are two high profile venues management uses to evaluate managers effectiveness. So that’s where you need to showcase your skills. While other skills are important too, they aren’t nearly as likely to get you promoted as mastering these four.

 Company culture is an amalgam of many things. Most often, it is strongly reflective of the CEO and his or her vision and values. Cultural habits and norms are powerful reinforcements of the status quo so it is vitally important that you aware of and understand the culture.  That’s because, at one time or another , you will want to execute an idea or project and find out some aspect or element of the culture has become a barrier to your success.  To be effective, you have to know how to change or get around that barrier.

 Working on teams, particularly as team lead, demands great people skills. And here I would suggest you insist on receiving some training before taking on a team lead position. Conflict resolution is one ingredient of that training that is essential.  As team lead, there will be negotiation and discussion upwards, sideways and downward in the organizational chain which will give you the opportunity to show how to get things done through others among other things.

 Organization and planning is ever present in any manager’s job.  One of the fundamental precepts managers need to keep in mind is, what got our company here today, isn’t what will get us where we want to be in the future.  You have to overcome the fact that It’s always more comfortable to do what you’ve been doing than to change.

 Managers spend over 70% of their time communicating.  Unfortunately, the message we usually  hear is completely different than the one that was sent.  According to recent studies, approximately 90% of our understanding of personal communication comes from non-verbal things  such as body language. However, the biggest problem in communicating  is poor listening skills; active listening is considered a learned behavior.

 Companies that have success year after year characteristically have core values that remain fixed. These values play a vital role in managing people so know them well.  Motivating employees helps maintain and exceed performance levels. Whether by incentive programs or introducing new and more difficult tasks, the manager’s role is to make it happen.

 Problem solving and making decisions is at the core of a manager’s responsibilities.  Prioritize your problems first. You don’t want to react to a problem, you want to understand it. Then, if it’s a complex problem, break it down into parts and begin to deal with it one part at a time.  There are excellent analytical tools to help and you should know what they are.  If it’s a decision your boss has to make, take it to him, but with your recommendations on what should be done.  

 There are a variety of ways to master the four skills, i.e. books, community college courses, company training programs, or watching how other managers have progressed up the promotion ladder. Whatever avenue you choose, start now and then you can tell your boss, “Promote Me! I’m ready.”

AZ State Training Grants on Temporary Hold

August 12, 2009

By John Riley

MPj04387460000[1] Up grading personnel skills should be among the top priorities of business managers if companies are to weather the significant structural and economic changes brought about by the near financial collapse. Intellectual skills have always been the ‘coin of the relm’ but never as important as they are today.
And the training should start now. But with the squeeze on budgets over the past few months, money may not be available now. However, a number of states provide state training grants to help companies deal with this need.
Arizona has one of the better programs, but facing over a $ 2 billion debt, it is on hold. Nevertheless, they are still accepting requests which will be held on a first come, first serve basis, for when money is again available.
The maximum grant available  is $1.5 million. That is based on a two-part submission: one grant to train new employees for a new position and another grant to train incumbent employees.  A company can submit one or both requests depending on how the grant is to be used.
The program is very flexible.  Within reason, any job title can qualify for training. When a grant is received, the company has up to two years to complete the training. Once a grant is completed, the company may reapply for another grant.
If personnel to be trained are new employees for newly created positions, the State will reimburse up to 75% of the training costs. For incumbent employees the reimbursement rate is up to 50%.
For an employer with 100 or more employees in an urban area, the grant can range from $2,000 to $5,000 per employee.
For an employer with less than 100 employees, the range is from $5,000 to $8,000 per employee.
Temporary or contract employees cannot be trained under this grant program.
Employers interested in learning more details about the program or wanting to intiate a grant request can call John at 480-286-2300.

Foreign Exchange Students Need Host Families

August 7, 2009

 By John Riley

Each year, nearly 30,000 high school students from countries all over the world come to the United States  to study for one semester or one school year. With the fall semester soon to start, the students will begin arriving within the next three weeks and will need a host family to provide room and board while they are here.

Many students already have host families, however, a number of students are waiting to have their host families assigned. Foreign companies who recruit the students contract with American student exchange placement  organizations who then have the responsibility of arranging for school admissions and finding host families.  Many of these placement firms  also recruit American students who want to study abroad and then contract with foreign placement companies to arrange for schools and host families. 

STS Foundation(STSF) headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona,  is one of the leading student exchange organizations. This year they will place approximately 500 foreign students throughout the country, semester and annual,  from 32 countries.

Annual surveys taken by STSF point to three reasons why most families host:

1) the family has high school age kids and believe hosting would be a good social and learning experience for them.

2) it is an excellent way to learn about new cultures.

3) frequently, hosting leads to new life long friendships for the entire family

When a family agrees to host, they are interviewed in their home and asked for three references. After that, a background check is initiated. Then the family and the local STSF representative sit down and select a student. Good English skills are required for exchange students.

Students arrive in the United States with insurance and spending money for the duration of their stay.

The student exchange program is under the auspices of, and administered by, the U. S. Department of State.  Standards are developed and monitored by CSIET, an indepent and well established organization.

For families who have an interest in hosting a student, you can call Dave at STSF: 1-800-522-4678.   The STSF website is

UpComing Business Courses– Phoenix

August 4, 2009

Two new business courses have been added to Paradise Valley Community College’s continuing (adult) education program in the fall. For more information or to register, call 602-787-6805.

How to Become a Successful Consultant

Consulting has become a big industry that offers opportunity in good times as well as bad. The Consultant program has five parts: 1) Self Examination, 2) Getting Started 3) Developing Strategies 4) Marketing Your Skills 5) Getting and Keeping Clients. The course includes interactive discussions between the instructor and students and a number of case histories.

Classes start Tuesday,  September 15th and continue the following four Tuesdays. The two hour sessions will run from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Master Techniques of Successful Managers

Today’s managers are expected to possess a wide variety of skills. However, four basic skills are most important for advancement. This course will focus on those skills and the two business environments where management expects managers to apply those skills. This course will help managers and prospective managers master 1) organization and planning, 2) communications 3) problem solving and 4) managing people in  cultural and team work environments. Discussing case histories and utilizing a few analytical tools will be included. Cost: $89.00.

Classes start Tuesday, September 29 and will continue in the following five Tuesdays. The course will be conducted in six two-hour sessions from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm