Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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Be Smart Enough to Surround Yourself With Good People

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Holiday Inn leaders scout new project / Wallace E. Johnson (left), president, and Kemmons Wilson, chairman of the board of Holiday Inns of America Inc., look over plans for a new project in July 1958.

Holiday Inn leaders scout new project / Wallace E. Johnson (left), president, and Kemmons Wilson, chairman of the board of Holiday Inns of America Inc., look over plans for a new project in July 1958.

Kemmons Wilson (Holiday Inn) asserted, “I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to be smart to run a business, but you do have to be smart enough to surround yourself with good people– people with vision, imagination, and determination. In the long run, my success has depended upon service to the consumer and the motivation and enthusiasm of the people in the business itself, from the doorman to the manager.”

The great leaders intuitively knew that one of the biggest challenges to be faced came from selecting and motivating the right employees. Michael Dell (Dell Computer) verified this, when he admitted, “One of the biggest challenges we face today is finding managers who can sense and respond to rapid shifts, people who can process new information very quickly and make decisions in real time. It’s a problem for the computer industry as a whole – and not just for Dell – that the industry’s growth has outpaced its ability to create managers. We tell prospective hires, ‘If you want an environment that is never going to change, don’t come here. This is not the place for you.’”

How great leaders approached identifying and hiring the right employees was as varied as their individual personalities. Ross Perot (EDS) noted, “Over my years in business, I have had a saying when it comes to hiring: Hire character and train skills. Everything worth doing is done on a foundation of integrity and honor.”

Timothy Koogle (Yahoo) shared his insights by explaining, “What we found is that hiring really smart people who have a breadth of knowledge or breadth of interest has been way more beneficial than hiring people with a whole lot of more mainstream media experience, and that means hiring really smart people straight out of school who are broader in their knowledge base and their interest level. And they’re more out of the box than anything else.”

“Microsoft has long hired based on I.Q. and ‘intellectual bandwidth.’ [Bill] Gates is the undisputed ideal: talking to most people is like sipping from a fountain, goes the saying at the company, but with Gates it’s like drinking from a fire hose. Gates, Ballmer and Myhrvold believe it’s better to get a brilliant but untrained young brain—they’re called ‘Bill clones’—than someone with too much experience. The interview process tests not what the applicants know but how well they can process tricky questions: If you wanted to figure out how many times on average you would have to flip the pages of the Manhattan phone book to find a specific name, how would you approach the problem?”

Colin Powell (U.S. Army) emphasized the importance of hiring and retaining the right people, when he noted, “Your best people are those who support your agenda and who deliver the goods. Those people expect more and deserve more, whether those rewards take the form of additional compensation, accolades, career advancement, assignments to plum projects, or personal development opportunities. If they don’t get what they expect and deserve, they become deflated, demotivated, and cynical. Because they’re marketable, they’re the first ones to update their resumes when they’re unhappy. And for organizations competing in today’s knowledge economy, that can be a recipe for disaster.”

  1. Wilson Kemmons, How to Make Your Guests Happy (Business Perspectives, Volume: 12, Issue: 4)
  2. Magretta Joan, The Power of Virtual Integration: An Interview with Dell Computer’s Michael Dell (Harvard Business School Publishing, March-April 1998 v76 n2 p72 (13) )
  3. Remarks by H. Ross Perot upon receiving the Sylvanus Thayer Award West Point – 15 October 2009 (West Point Association of Graduates; http://www.westpointaog.org)
  4. Silicon Valley In-Depth Interviews: Tim Koogle (Business Week, August 7, 1997)
  5. Isaacson Walter, In Search of the Real Bill Gates (Time Magazine, January 13, 1997)
  6. Harari Oren, Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell (McGraw Hill, New York, 2002) p. 25

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great, What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI, 2011) Read a FREE Chapter.


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Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

March 27, 2013 at 10:00 am

Well-Run Meetings Deliver Tangible Benefits

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Most employees consider meetings boring, demoralizing and pointless; research has demonstrated that they are often in fact correct in this assessment. However, this perception is a reflection of the time and effort managers choose to invest in getting the most out of their meetings. Interesting, exciting and motivational meetings need not be costly, but do require devoted time and effort.

Managers often plan and prepare poorly for many meetings, and to predictable effect. They can fall short because they either don’t know how or don’t have the time to prepare an effective, well-run meeting. Some managers may further hold too many meetings. In many cases, managers are aware that quality meetings are expected by the company, but don’t understand the purpose and objectives.

A well-run meeting takes planning and forethought as to what should be accomplished in terms of specific desired results and outcomes. With companies continuing to slash or freeze budgets, managers must ensure that they are able to reach specific goals and objectives to maximize the return on their meeting investment.

A well-run meeting should provide a team and its individual members with tangible benefits not easily derived from other venues. These benefits include:


A well-run business meeting should be built around a theme that not only sets expectations for the discussion, but also indicates the tone and goals of the team for the entire year. The focus should be on something concrete that employees should think, feel and believe. As a gimmicky, entertaining theme will create little if any progress toward real objectives, the meeting should be a clear call to employees to pursue a specific goal through concerted and ongoing action.

Excitement and Motivation

In order to produce excitement in the team, well-run meetings should provide sufficient information regarding the company’s initiatives and programs for an upcoming period. The unveiling and demonstrating of new products and/or directions for the company can also be highly motivating. In any regard, employees should be excited about the possibilities presented to them. This excitement, together with public and peer recognition for accomplishments, will better motivate the team to get back into their jobs.


Well-run meetings should provide employees with additional perspective into the philosophy of the company, along with new directions, concepts and ideas that they can apply directly to their jobs.

The assembly and interaction of employees allows each to gain new ideas and insights into what is working in other departments, divisions and/or regions.

Knowledge and Expertise

Employees should leave meetings with further knowledge and expertise. This should include new company, customer, product and/or competitive knowledge. The purpose should be to impart this knowledge and information to the team and to provide opportunities for developing expertise within the confines of the meeting. These actions can also be taken in training sessions, group settings and workshops.

Enhanced Relationships

Meetings should provide employees and managers with the opportunity to build and enhance relationships with one another during substantive presentations. Many meetings include the presence of key support personnel, with employees given the opportunity to meet and interact with these individuals. During future contacts with these support people, relationships are strengthened to the point that employees can be more effective in dealing with one another and delivering service to customers.

Enhanced Communication

Effective and well-run meetings enhance communication on all levels. Subject matter is presented, and the presenter is available to answer questions and discuss issues with participants. Additionally, employees and managers have the ability to interact with each other in a more relaxed environment. Employees can communicate more openly and candidly than might be possible in other work settings.

Increased Results

The bottom line for any meeting is to enhance the employee’s knowledge and productivity. An increase in individual performance should be seen once employees return to their jobs. Managers will need to continually reinforce and coach individuals to ensure such increases are sustained and continue to grow over time.


Do These Four Common Pitfalls Undermine Your Meeting’s Effectiveness?

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Excerpt: Effective Meetings: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series(Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

February 7, 2013 at 11:06 am

Objectives Allow Managers to Focus on Obtaining Results

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The most effective use of time comes from managers’ abilities to establish and detail appropriate and concise objectives. Making things happen that might otherwise go unattained, objectives allow managers to focus on obtaining results.

Many managers waste time by setting and following objectives that are unclear, imprecise or too broad. Objectives are reliable measurement tools for monitoring progress and directional courses of action.

Time is used unproductively when managers’ objectives are incompatible with organizational purposes and direction. Taking charge and authority over time comes from establishing appropriate departmental objectives.

Exerting a direct influence on attitudes and motivation, appropriate objectives direct managers’ efforts toward achieving concrete goals. Appropriate and effective objectives act as factors of success and become sustained positive attitude builders. They generate a consistency of action—which feeds continuous ongoing success—and prevent managers and employees from performing random activities and making ineffective decisions.

Detailed objectives keep managers on track and alert to potential interferences that can be addressed early before they create serious problems. This maintains workplace momentum and keeps productivity at peak levels. Additionally, effective objectives allow managers to concentrate on future opportunities and establish new goals as future needs occur.

Determining sound daily, weekly and monthly objectives and following them takes work and discipline on the part of the manager. In order to advance personal performance and departmental efficiency, managers must continually revisit all short- and long-term objectives.

Managing by objectives carries a positive impact in terms of saving time and increasing results. Managers should establish prioritized objectives to save work and reduce redundancies and frustrations. Objectives should be detailed carefully to assure essential assignments are met on a continual basis in all major areas.

Techniques to help establish time-saving departmental objectives include:

Establish Compatible Objectives

Managers must make certain that all objectives reflect how their own particular departments interrelate with others. Determining interrelated objectives will prevent departments from becoming independent operating units focused on meeting their own particular time schedules, quality standards and procedures. Valuable time and energy can be wasted because of segmented functions and disjointed compatibility.

When departmental incompatibility exists, time and attention is not devoted to organizational problem solving. Managers spend excessive amounts of time dealing with immediate crises and resulting conflict or chaos. Major issues tend to go unresolved and need more time and energy to remedy at a later time. As the need to produce results becomes pressured and forced, departmental cooperation and unity of effort is hindered.

Lay a Solid Groundwork for Defining Departmental Objectives

Objectives need to address departmental functions and purposes within the organization. Before determining departmental objectives managers need to ask themselves, “Why does my department exist?” Next, managers need to ask, “What should this department accomplish from an organizational standpoint?”

To answer these questions, managers must define departmental expectations, agendas, functions, methods and procedures. Managers must make certain that they contribute in a positive way to the effective use of human resources and profitability. To be effective and more time-sensitive, objectives must detail all necessary activities that contribute to overall organizational goals, as well as specific departmental ones.

Define Areas of Responsibility

Managers need to detail areas of departmental responsibility and identify particular key areas both where unnecessary overlaps occur and where overlaps should occur and do not. Within the analysis process, managers must concentrate on identifying areas of activity that play a significant role in achieving results.

Valuable amounts of time can be saved and transformed into bottom-line profit. Objectives must detail necessary lead time for obtaining such things as raw materials, essential components, additional equipment and human resources.

Define Specific Departmental Functions

Managers need to assess departmental functions that are necessary for attaining determined goals and results before formalizing objectives. While addressing specific functions that are necessary for accomplishing their individual departmental missions, they concentrate on planning, organizing, directing and controlling these functions. Departmental objectives should address how each particular function will be performed and why, as well as major areas of performance accountability.


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Excerpt: Time & Personal Management (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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