• What Defines a Leader?

    by Steve Ford, chairman of OI Partners

    There are many, many books written on leadership. Some recent ones advocate for “resonate leadership,” “authentic leadership” or “agile leadership.” These are all valid approaches to becoming a successful leader. But what really defines a leader?

    What defines a good leader is the ability to inspire a team toward a unified vision for the organization’s success. In other words, good leaders help their teams know exactly what the goals are for the company, business unit or department. When the team knows exactly what their group needs to accomplish, and they have the tools and resources to accomplish it, they will be committed and make the contribution they need to achieve those goals. If all the teams are heading in the same direction, the organization can achieve its goals. Without everyone focused on the same goals—and understanding their role in achieving those goals—no organization can accomplish all it wants to efficiently and effectively. And without every employee’s involvement, you aren’t building the commitment, enthusiasm and tapping the expertise of everyone in the organization.

    I have always thought that defining successful leadership was pretty easy. For years, I have told executives who are interviewing with a new organization to develop two questions about the organization’s strategy, market challenges or competition. Then, in their interviews, they should ask each of the people who would be their peers  the same two questions. What the interviewee wants to know is, does everyone give the same answer to those two questions? When everyone gives the same answer, they clearly understand what the organization’s goals are. This is the result of effective leadership. Yet, it is amazing to me how often executive candidates tell me they received different answers from every person they asked.

    How do you ensure that ...

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  • You can run but you can’t hide! Embracing social media to build your brand

    by Shawna WilliamsM.S., CMP, Managing Partner, OI Partners Denver

    Two years ago, I had my hands tied behind my back telling the world, “I will not engage in this silly online networking.” Now, I have come to realize how important social media is in this changing world of business.

    In the past year, I have grown my network from 50 people to 780 “real-world” connections on LinkedIn. With a sincere effort to update my statuses daily on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, I can account my social media efforts for a significant increase in brand recognition and business leads. 

    On March 22, 2011, USA Today reported that LinkedIn surpassed 100 million users, nationally and internationally. In 2010, Facebook beat out Google to become the most visited U.S. website, indicating a shift in how Americans are searching for content (CNNMoney.com).The statistics go on and on.

    You can run but you can’t hide! Social media is changing the way businesses are communicating. Social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter already have a vast user base. And this user base is comprised of your key audiences—potential clients, potential employees, potential employers and more—searching for and sharing content, conducting research and looking to connect. They’re even looking for YOU. Will they find you there?

    You MUST take the time to learn how social media can be used to build your personal and company brand. So, where do you start?

    Prepare Your Road Map! Think about your product (may be YOU), audience and value proposition. Research what social media outlets would give you the biggest bang for your buck and most support your personal and business goals (i.e., LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, etc.)

    Take the Time! The biggest hurdle we hear is “it just takes too much time” or “how much ...

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  • When Layoffs Abound, Career Transition is More Critical than Ever

    By Tim Schoonover

    On Wednesday July 27, 2011, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled, What’s Wrong with America’s Job Engine? written by David Wessel. In this article, Wessel states that layoffs used to be more temporary. In fact, during the worst portion of the 1980-82 recession, one out of every five layoffs was temporary.

    Today, layoffs are more permanent. In the recent recession, the percentage of “temporary layoffs” never exceeded 10 percent. 

    What does this mean for job seekers? Job hunting today requires more time, more effort and more sophistication. According to Richard Bolles, an internationally recognized authority on job search skills, a recession only reveals how elementary our job-hunting skills actually are.

    In order to find new work, transitioning employees will need more meaningful assistance in self-assessment, the crafting of marketing materials, training in advanced-lead generation and networking and help in understanding the accelerated expectations that the current business climate demands.

    What does this mean for employers? Employers can offer a lifeline to their transitioning employees by providing high-quality, “high-touch” outplacement services that provide interactive training, online resources and strong personal support that is so critical in moving people through specific individual and family challenges.

    Remaining employees – as well as exiting employees -- do notice how their departing co-workers are being treated. The net gain for employers? Improved workforce attitude and engagement, not to mention the protection of a valued reputation.

    Here are five things employers can do now:

    Think of career transition assistance as a way to help employees continue their working career as well as engage remaining employees.

    Show concern and build positive attitude for employees by helping them build and grow their career while employed.

    Hold managers accountable for helping direct reports build career plans.

    Provide outplacement services that provide personal attention and ...

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