Archives for December 2012

More than Meets the Eye

By Joe Tillman | 12/26/2012 | 7:01 AM

Lights Camera ActionEvery once in awhile, I read an article that seems incomplete, such as this article on 5 Leadership Fads to Ignore, by Steve Toback. Overall, I can wholeheartedly agree with many of the author’s observations. However, Toback missed a critical teaching moment IMHO. 

The problem I see with the “leadership fads” named in the piece is the focus on the results. Toback says you cannot just copy and paste Steve Jobs’ management/leadership style; emotional intelligence is hard to measure objectively.

To me, everything the author outlined as wrong with the fads are the results of those fads. He hints to having to understand the practices that generated the results, but gave few, if any, practices gleamed from those results. His answer is “Be yourself. Create your own culture. Lead.” Then again, it’s not easy distilling the processes needed to be successful into a nice short concise phrase – like Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.

Trying to understand the conditions, elements, underlying practices that generate specific results and improved performance is benchmarking. It’s knowing the current state and having a plan to move to the desired state.  

To improve our performance, focus on those practices we’ve identified that helped others to do what we would like to accomplish. What were the conditions surrounding their success? Can we replicate those conditions if they’re missing?

Steve Jobs was an amazing communicator. While we will never be like or anything close to Steve Jobs, we can work to improve our communication skills.

Soft skills, rather than emotional intelligence, can be measured. Companies are already working to do just that in their performance reviews. You can measure leadership, communication, courage, trust, teamwork, relationship creation, etc. and each forms part of emotional intelligence.

He’s right about employee engagement. Here’s a five-step process to use.

Find your vision and understand who you are. Understand your strengths and your weaknesses. It’s about finding yourself, so you can be yourself!

And folks, what has worked in the past still works today. Napoleon Hill “Think and Grow Rich” and Thomas Troward’s “The Creative Process in the Individual” are writings that still have applicability in today’s world.

As the New Year approaches, start thinking about you plan for next year. For example, are you ready to benchmark? What are your New Year’s Resolutions on leadership and beyond fads?


Image: Quiet on the set! by Theiggsta via Flickr CC

Soft Skills and the 3 Cs

By Joe Tillman | 12/21/2012 | 9:48 AM

CommunicationsAs more companies understand the impact “soft skills” have on their relationships with customers, suppliers and employees, many young professionals are graded on how they perform on these soft skills.

By soft skills, I mean the ability to write, verbalize, and inspire. Some employers already look at soft skills during the hiring process. David Williams, CEO of Fishbowl Inventory, Inc., has an interesting approach based on the company’s 7 Non-Negotiables (7 NNs).

Similarly, as young professionals prepare to become leaders, many find they may have the technical know-how, but lack the soft skills necessary to succeed. Adrian Gonzalez said it best in a November 9th, 2011 post. He says,

Simply put, a young professional with a lot of supply chain knowledge and experience, but with mediocre written and verbal communication skills to motivate, persuade, and get buy-in from others, will probably never reach the upper rungs of the leadership ladder.”

Communication, courage, and creativity are the most important soft skills each young professional should develop and/or improve.

Communication is what delivers your vision to the world. The ability to describe a vision, motivate others to work with you to achieve it, and to persuade some of them to become stakeholders in it is the essence of leadership.

Courage is sharing ideas and thoughts with others. It’s speaking up, even if you are scared of what someone may think. It’s a choice between being judged or being ignored.  It’s asking for help.

Creativity is fitting a puzzle together without a picture. It’s taking two concepts that are unrelated and connecting them into something better. It’s making one plus one equal three. Jonah Lehrer has researched creativity and how to better hone your creativity skills.

Managers simply organize and direct their people in order to reach the company’s vision. Leaders, on the other hand, inspire people to be their best self through communication, courage, and creativity.

I’d love your feedback – and would love your help in sharing questions and comments about being a young professional. If you have a question, comment or feedback, please send me an email to [email protected].  The blog on the last Wednesday of each month will be a question and answer session from those that I receive from you, my audience. If I use your question, I will send you a free copy of a book mentioned in that month’s posts. 

Image: BSA Skill Awards by stevejb68 via Flickr cc

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Joe Tillman

Joe Tillman

An enthusiastic and dedicated professional, Joe Tillman offers supply chain education and research through his company TSquared Logistics. Joe has a keen interest in all things supply chain and uses his high-energy approach to life to author articles for industry publications, blog on young professionals for DC Velocity, and speak to supply chain industry groups. He also co-leads the Warehousing Education and Research Council's influential annual benchmarking study, "DC Measures." Prior to founding TSquared Logistics, Joe worked with Supply Chain Visions as a senior researcher and consultant, Wal-Mart Logistics as a distribution professional, and Union Pacific Railroad as a conductor. Joe is certified in transportation and logistics (CTL) by AST&L and SCOR-Professional certified by the Supply Chain Council.


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