Lynda McDermott, Certified Speaking Professional

What's the Best Advice You Ever Got?
by Lynda McDermott

Earlier this Spring Fortune magazine published an article in which 28 business executive luminaries talked about the people who had most influenced their lives. Meg Whitman, CEO and President of eBay, recalled at the age of 10 that her father told her "there is no point in being mean to anyone at anytime" after she had treated someone badly.
Danny Deutsch, CEO of ad agency Deutsch Inc., was fired by his Dad when he was 24: "You don't love this and I don't want you around here because I love what I do!...If you love something you'll be great at it and the money will come."
Similarly this Spring The New York Post interviewed John Wooden, the legendary 94-year-old "Wizard of Westwood," who coached UCLA to 10 NCAA basketball titles in the 1960s and 1970s. When asked who had the most influence on his life, he said his parents had given him advice that largely influenced his philosophy of teaching and coaching: "Make each day your masterpiece. You can't be perfect, but make the effort to be."
After reading these two articles, I picked up a pen and jotted down some of the ideas that have had a profound influence on my career, my life and in how I have coached leaders and teams over the years. Here are a few of them:

  • An early mentor: "A finished leader is a finished leader."

  • My father: "Stay in the game and act like an All-American."

  • My mother: "You can have it all - just maybe not all at once."

  • A friend: "Step by step is how you'll achieve your dreams."

    Who has influenced who you are as a leader in your life? What leadership lessons did they share with you that has influenced your success? What "teachable point of view" are you passing on to your employees, to your children?
    We'd love to hear the best advice you ever got!

    Book Review: Winning…
    by Jack Welch with Suzie Welch

    If you are looking for some leadership advice from a wildly successful business executive, I strongly recommend this recently published book by Jack Welch, former Chairman of General Electric and his wife Suzy Welch, former editor-in-chief of Harvard Business Review.
    The book provides Jack's management/wisdom in such areas as:

  • The need for business leaders to be emotionally intelligent.

  • The critical importance of candor.

  • How to hire and retain the best people.

  • How do you know whether you are in the right job?

  • Creating a values-based leadership culture.

  • How to manage in a crisis.

  • How to work with a difficult boss.

    Jack also acknowledges what he has learned from his professional and personal mistakes, which is refreshing.
    This may become one of the best business bibles as it speaks to a variety of audiences, from CEOs to MBAs, from workers to college students. It would make a great graduation present!

    Actions for Results: Tips and Tools for Giving and Getting Good Advice
    When you want advice:

  • Identify specifically the issue, problem or question you are wrestling with.

  • Identify a role model or two you believe has experience and credibility in that area.

  • Request a 15-minute meeting/telephone call with him/her.

  • Outline specifically the situation you are facing and the questions you would like to have his/her perspective on.

    During the meeting/call:
    a) Confirm the time he/she has available.
    b) Briefly describe the situation and question.
    c) Listen to the advice - ask clarifying questions.
    d) Thank your advisor for his/her time and advice.
    e) Follow up with a thank you note (and feedback if appropriate).

    When you are asked for advice:
  • Decide first if you are capable (time, experience) of giving advice.

  • Ask the person to describe the situation and the possible questions they want to resolve.

  • Ask the person what decision or action options they have been considering (and the pros and cons of each).

  • Provide commendatory on the proposed options and offer any additional new ideas.

  • Don't assume that what you would do or have done in similar situations is what he/she should do.

    Copyright 2005. Lynda McDermott. All rights reserved.


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