May 22, 2007

True Partners

Filed under: Leadership, Teamwork, Relationships — Mark Sanborn @ 5:15 pm

I was talking with a potential strategic partner recently when he said, “We take partnerships very seriously. We don’t define them loosely like some do.”

I told him, “I’ve got many individuals and organizations interested in ‘partnering.’ What that usually means is that they want to eat some of my existing pie. In my book a true partner helps you bake a bigger pie.”

True partners help each other be better and more than they would have been without each other. In practice, it doesn’t often work out that way. But that should be the goal.

What have you done for your true partners lately? What have they done for you?

April 22, 2007


Filed under: Observations, Teamwork — Mark Sanborn @ 4:51 pm

My friend Tanner invited me to join him at the neighborhood beer brewing this afternoon.

A few guys on Tanner’s street get together at his neighbor Michael’s to homebrew and drink beer. Michael and his wife park their cars in the brewing area during the week, but when it is time to make beer, the brewing apparatus displace the vehicles.

Michael works for the EPA and is a chemist by training, an education that lends itself well to brewing beer. Over the course of several hours any number of people come and go, but there is a core group of guys who help in the brewing process.

Today they were making an ESB. They had an IPA and Heffe on tap, and some bottles of the last batch of ESB they made. The beer they make is really good. I can personally attest to that.

Whether or not you drink beer, it is a great gathering. I met lots of people, including a guy who does business with my brother.

Many of my neighbors were out working on their yards today. That certainly makes for nice yards but doesn’t necessarily create community. I kind of wish the people on my street reallocated some of the time we spend on spiffing up our yards to make beer or roast a pig (something else they do on Tanner’s street) or something else to bring people together.

Community seems increasingly rare these days. Anything that creates community–whether it is making beer or roasting a pig–is a good thing.

March 28, 2007

Create Teamwork with ACES

Filed under: Teamwork — Mark Sanborn @ 10:54 am

What kinds of characteristics do you want your team members to possess?
In my book, Teambuilt: Making Teamwork Work, I suggest hiring ACES. ACES is an acronym for four important qualities that are very difficult to teach or develop. By getting people who already possess those qualities on your team, you’ll fast-forward your success.

A = Attitude (a basic positive orientation and disposition)
C = Cooperation (a proven record of cooperating and collaborating with others is key)
E = Energy (every tried to teach someone to be energetic?)

S = Service Ethic (these are people who do the right things for the right reason)

March 5, 2007

Something Bigger Than Ourselves

Filed under: Success, Difference Makers, Teamwork — Mark Sanborn @ 8:56 am

Yesterday our church celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was very moving for me. I’ve been attending for over 20 of those years, and watching the retrospective of the church’s history, it was gratifying to be involved–even in a very small way–with something so significant. So many lives have been impacted through the work of the church, and watching people share their stories reminded me of how rewarding it is to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

Yesterday afternoon I revisited some of the books in my library about happiness, and the theme repeated itself. Pleasures are temporary and require little if any effort. Gratifications are more lasting and result from effort and involvement. But being part of something bigger than one’s self is one of the primary factors that create happiness.

My old friend Bob Beltz once shared that Abraham Maslow was working on a higher level in his hierarchy of needs when he died. Most of us can recall the fifth or highest level is self-actualization. According to Bob, Maslow suspected there was something more, and that the highest level of actualization was more like self-transcendence. I’ve never been able to document that idea, but given the events of my life and observation of others, it rings true.

We need to be part of something bigger. We need to know that although we can accomplish much individually, the power of community and involvement enables us to leverage our skills and abilities. Investing our time, energy, expertise and resources in something bigger than ourselves, it seems, offer the highest rewards of happiness.

February 19, 2007

Full of Ideas

Filed under: Success, Teamwork — Mark Sanborn @ 11:13 am

Doug Hall has written an interesting piece for “Ideas to Grow On” in the BusinessWeek SmallBiz February/March 2007 issue.

He says their research at his firm Eureka! Ranch found that companies with more choices for growth made smarter decisions and grew 5.8% faster than those with fewer options.

James Michener said “The United States has become great because of ideas, not because of things.” The same must apply to organizations.

Generating choices and options is key. Companies “full of ideas,” Doug says, are probably a lot more fun to work at, too.
“The lesson is to push yourself and your team to come up with more. Challenge every member of your team–every week–to come up with one new idea for a new marketing message, product, or service, or simply a new idea for improving company efficiency. Not all the ideas will work. In fact, most won’t. But the more choices you have, the smarter decisions you’ll make, and the faster your company will grow.”

February 2, 2007

Want More Teamwork?

Filed under: Teamwork — Mark Sanborn @ 2:40 pm

Begin by hiring for it. Don’t overemphasize the solitary achievement of potential employees. Look for those with a record of individual and team contribution.

Next, expect it. Make it part of the job description. Clarify that it isn’t enough to be a lone-ranger

Then, reward it. Look for tangible and intangible ways to reward those who help others succeed.

Finally, celebrate it. Make team celebrations frequent and fun

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