Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lessons in Leadership - November 1, 2005

This is the archive of previous issues for Lessons in Leadership. The current issue can be sent to you directly on request. Go to to request your current copy of Lessons in Leadership.

Lessons in Leadership is devoted to helping new leaders learn how to motivate employees and customers to stay longer, complain less, and produce more profits. In this issue, you learned:

Contagious Leadership Lesson:
Leadership: It's Simple Really
Contagious Customer Service Lesson:
Are we Making it Easy for our Customers?
Contagious Confidence Lesson:
What if You Simply Did Nothing?

Contagious Leadership Lesson:
Leadership: It's Simple Really

Really, isn't leading new or problem employees an easy thing to do? If you follow three simple rules such as:

  • Micro manage until they get it
  • Free up those who don't
  • Beat up those who don't and won't leave (KIDDING!)

Whoa, whoa, whoa. No, no, no. That last one was just a JOKE. Yet, leadership can be simple, if you let it, but at no time does it involve physically harming anyone, no matter how tempting it might be. Let's look at how you might handle those who are new or those who are posing problems, a bit differently.

Micro management is a task most abhor. With those who are new at performing a task or skill or those who are not performing it well, however, micro management has it's place. The simple Contagious Leadership rule is to Micro manage Only Those Who Need it and Only Until They Prove They do Not. The concepts of hovering, pestering, or bugging to death are NOT synonymous with micro management. What is perhaps more appropriate and more simple is to guide those who are not yet skilled to all the resources and tools to become skilled, give them a way to practice, and then give them feedback on their progress.

With those who are not performing the practice becomes a bit less simple, but not by much. If a person is not performing, find out why with the following questions:

  • Is there a reward for doing it right?
  • Is there a reward for doing it wrong?
  • Is there a punishment for doing it right or wrong?
  • Is the person afraid of failure?
  • Is the person afraid of success?
  • Does he or she lack the competence?
  • Does he or she lack the knowledge or skill?

Before micro managing a poor performer, solve the above issues. Then, provide a reward or consequence where there is none; address the fear that exists if it does; investigate skill and competence level.

Once you have done each of these, follow the above steps for new employees. If performance still does not change within a reasonable amount of time, transfer or terminate the person accordingly, however, NOT WITHOUT prior investigation and clear answers to the above questions.

It's simple, really.

"Micro managers find few friends and even fewer talented employees when they overextend their welcome in performance territory."
M. Wofford
Contagious Customer Service Lesson:
Are We Making it Easy for our Customers?

Who can argue with the simple ease and utility of the search engine that has taken it's place among brands that are now generic, such as Kleenex and Coke. The search engine is Google. Have you "Googled" something lately? Chances are you have and so have hundreds of thousands of other customers of the search engine giant. What do you bet, their success is due in part to the fact that it is just so darn simple?

The November issue of Fast Company happens to agree. The article, (found at - once they update their site for the November issue in my hot little hand) focuses on how simple Google is in the face of all of our high tech gadgets and services in the information age. The lesson is ours to learn. In the age of complication times information equals confusion, are we making it simple for our customers to do business with us?

  1. Do they have to search to buy from us?
  2. Do they have to go through menu tree mazes to find an answer to a simple question?
  3. Or do we frustrate our customers by making it "easier" for them to get what they need without ever interfacing with another human?

Consider my experience this week with what may well be the nation's largest computer distributor. The company with a name begins with a big blue D and has perfected the use of the web and the menu tree to solve all our problems as end users. Yet, the problem this week began as I navigated four menu trees and answered a round of rigorous security codes and identifiers before I could ask about my power adaptor problems.

It about as silly as if I had walked into a pharmacy and had to answer twenty questions on my health history, including my immediate family names and addresses, before asking for which aisle the aspirin is on. The response certainly was not an easy one to get and certainly does not make doing business with the computer giant's tech support easy. Then again, maybe that was the point.

In contrast, lately I have noticed that the airlines, though they suffer, have made it easier for the customer to use their web sites. What used to be an experience that I suffered through only if the travel agent had gone home for the day is now a piece of cake. Check out the ease of or for yourself and then consider how this applies
to your customers.

The key to Contagious Customer Service is to keep 'em coming back. Yet your business can only be contagious, or catching, if it is easy to catch. What are you doing to make it easier for your customers to do business with you...and if the answer is nothing, you may just be getting the results that you asked for.

"Contagious Customer Service means giving the customer something they catch on to and almost can't get rid of, so that they keep coming back."
M. Wofford

Contagious Confidence Lesson:
What if YOU Simply Did Nothing?

You step onto the stage, position yourself behind the lecturn, and silence strikes. In fact, the mind blowing, shorter than life, short-term memory, strikes at the same time. What do you do? Well, let's weigh your options, you can't think and you can't speak... try breathing... and then do nothing.

There is little more powerful than doing nothing, particularly when nothing can be done. And doing nothing is actually doing something. For example:

  • Simply pause and say nothing
  • Simply stand and say nothing
  • Simply state when the thoughts come back and everyone will listen.

There is power in the pause and the stare and the challenge when speaking often comes in when we say too much, and thus speak too fast. A further challenge occurs when we are afraid to look at any one person and we stare non-committedly at the heads of all.

Stop, say nothing, and look seriously at your audience. Pause, say nothing, and hold your pose. When you do speak, say it simply as though the audience is now clearly listening for the gold that pours forth from your mouth, you are always in competition with the voices in their head and their attention span!


"Contagious Confidence comes from feeding off the audience's reaction, however, first you have to give them something exciting to react to."
M. Wofford

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Being a leader doesn't happen in one day, it often takes years, yet doing it on your own may take a lifetime. Who wants to make all the mistakes I had to make in order to learn to lead others effectively? If you don' t have a coach, get one. If we had all the answers we would be doing it all without help and I have never met anyone who had all the answers in all the areas and didn't need any help - even if they didn't want to admit it. Fees and structure are based on project.

Monica provides coaching for small business owners, public speakers, and leaders. Outside of those areas, she will gladly refer you to someone who has more expertise and will serve you well. Contact her directly at 407-739-1870 or

Also - Check out the new website updates at You don't want to miss out on the coaching program that is all online.


See you next issue and in the meantime...

Stay Contagious!

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How Can You Bring Monica Wofford into Your Organization?

Monica Wofford, CSP, is the CEO of Contagious Companies.

She is also an international speaker, trainer, author and coach. Having written Contagious Leadership and trained organizations and companies such as Estee Lauder, Hallmark and the FAA, the US Mint and The City of New York, Monica is a skilled facilitator who helps you develop employees who stay longer, produce more and complain less. For more information, contact our Contagious Companies office at 1-866-382-0121.