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By Steve Sheils

Over the years I have seen many Senior Management Teams (SMT) that know how to do the heavy lifting. In these companies, growth of the top and bottom lines seem to be predictable and controlled.

In other companies, senior management appears to expend more effort getting along than they should. A strong CEO can often sort this out; but when he / she is absent, the games continue.

What are the symptoms? Who is responsible? How much money is wasted before the cure?

Let’s take a look at the team player dynamics.

The first dysfunction is an absence of trust among the team members. This stems from their unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Team members who are not open with each other about their mistakes and even weaknesses, makes it virtually impossible to build a foundation for trust.

The failure to build trust is damaging because it sets the tone for the second dysfunction: fear of conflict. The team won’t engage in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas and instead resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments. Who among us has not groaned inwardly during meetings of this kind?

A lack of healthy conflict is a real problem because it ensures the third dysfunction of a team: lack of commitment. Without airing opinions and ideas in a healthy open debate, team members rarely if ever buy into a decision or direction.

Without commitments and team participation we can expect to observe an avoidance of accountability. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to “call their peers” on the actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the team that manages the company’s future.

Whenever a team fails to hold their colleagues accountable, the fifth dysfunction will thrive. Inattention to results occurs when team members put their individual needs (or the needs of their division) first. Ego, career development and personal recognition are placed above the collective goals of the team.

Now if this sound simple, it’s because it is simple, at least in theory.

Which bring us back to the skills of the CEO. Building an effective SMT and keeping the players healthy, requires levels of discipline and persistence.

However, before diving into each of the dysfunctions and exploring ways to overcome them, it’s always helpful to assess your team and identify where the opportunities for improvement lie in your company.

Invite an unbiased consultant to a few of your SMT meetings. You might be surprised to learn your team has a few issues that need attention.

In my next article we’ll discuss the fundamental leadership skills that all senior staff should practice every day. Now these are the people we all should invite to our SMT.

Steve Sheils is the CEO of Authentic Vision for Change. Steve’s passion is helping companies make the difficult decisions required to achieve profitable growth in this tough economy.  He can be reached at 416-819-2004 or by email steve@sheils.com. Visit www.authentic-vision.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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Who do you trust?

By Stephen Rhodes

Do you trust your neighbour, your doctor, minister and mechanic?

Would you take advice from your mechanic on a new doctor, or your doctor on a new church?

Throughout our lives we build relationships with people. We not only trust them for what they promise, we often trust their opinions about things that they might not know much about.

How often have you heard a neighbour or a friend say I have a really good lawyer, accountant, butcher, baker or candlestick maker. Most of my neighbours don’t know much about any of these people. They do know that they trust the relationship they have developed and are happy to pass that along to me. A referral.

In networking parlance, a referral is the golden goose as in  I know and trust my new networking buddy well enough to refer him to one of my trusted business associates. The door opener.

Some organized networking groups force referrals and insist that participants swap names every week, providing new referrals for other participants. So either they have been holding out, like last week, or they have developed this deeply trusting relationship in the last seven days and they are about to share it with me.

Trust is at the center of all business relationships. But trust has to be earned.

Who do you trust?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Stephen Rhodes is President of The Marketing PAD, a full-service strategic communications and marketing company. Read Blogpad or visit  The Marketing Pad online.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By James Burchill

In business, you have but one function–to find new customers and keep them. Today I want to talk to you about using social media to augment this natural process.

The interesting thing about social media is that as a technology it facilitates something that we as humans do naturally. Social media accelerates the relationship from unknown to known. Sadly it has a tendency to bypass some of the natural checks and balances that we would normally implement (but I’ll save that for another time.)

Before we talk about social media’s ability to build our business, perhaps we should talk about the value of your network. The question I would ask, is this: Are all contacts in your network created equally?

Instinctively you realize this is a foolish question. You know some contacts are mere acquaintances, while other contacts have a deep bond to you in your business and represent true value.

The process of moving a contact (a prospect by another name) is simple and involves three stages. The first is to generate AWARENESS. This means people in your contact network know you exist, you are visible to them.

Although you’re visible to them, they are not sure about your business, your true value, or what you can do for them. To increase their value (to you) it requires moving them from awareness to TRUST.

At the level of trust (and you could subdivide this into two categories) contacts have a sense of what you do. They have proof. Second level of trust would be social proof, whereby they not only know what you can do, they’ve heard other people say so as well.

Finally the third stage is ACTION. They are now aware of you, trust you, and have heard good things about you, and are now ready to take action (which usually means they buy from you).

Now you understand the three stages you can probably see how social media facilitates and accelerates the movement between stages in your network. Here’s a question for you: Without thinking too much, do you know what kinds of social media would be good for each stage in your network’s evolution?

For instance, Twitter (which is publicly available) would be a prime example of building awareness. Facebook, which requires either personally friending an individual, or permitting someone to fan your page, is a prime example of an engaged, trust based platform.

Moving your network to take action can occur on almost all social media platforms but there is one that lends itself very well, your blog. Capable of sharing detailed information, pictures, video and audio, your blog is a perfect “grand central” for your online social media activities.

You might find it interesting to note that studies have indicated approximately 85% of your network is in the “awareness” stage. Approximately 10% of your network is in the “trust” stage, and about 5% are ready to take “action” (buy something.)

Armed with the understanding of how you move a prospect through the value proposition in your network and increase their overall value to you and your business, I imagine you are wondering how you’ve allocated your social media activities to date…

If you’re like most people, you’re probably spending a disproportionately large amount of time on the awareness stage (which is a bit like trying to be seen in a crowded room), when you really should be focusing on converting them to the trusting stage on your network’s evolution.

It’s certainly something to think about isn’t it?

JAMES BURCHILL shows individuals and companies how to profit from the innovative use of Internet technologies, strategic content and social media marketing. You can find out more at James’ website and you can subscribe to his J-List and get over 40 articles, reports and advice on Internet Marketing today.

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By Andrew Maxwell

In my last blog, I discussed the importance of entrepreneurial characteristics and traits, both in increasing a ventures likelihood of success and attracting funding.

In a recent webinar at the CIC www.innovationcentre.ca I identified eight critical entrepreneurial factors linked to venture success: it seems worthwhile to identify them explicitly here.  First, I must introduce an academic term, the idea of a curvilinear relationship, that is a factor where there is an optimum amount correlated with a positive outcome, too little or too much are equally negative.  In trying to explain this, I call this the Goldilocks syndrome, where an item (bed, chair etc.) that was too little or too big, was no good for Goldilocks. The secret was for Goldilocks to find one in the middle that was just right! I use this analogy to describe the relationship between specific entrepreneurial factors that are linked to entrepreneurial success, where an optimum level is just right.

The eight entrepreneurial factors I have identified are: ability, experience, training, commitment, passion, confidence, openness and trust. I will briefly explain how an entrepreneur must have a sufficient level of each, but in excess each factor can also lead to the entrepreneur’s downfall. In my next blog, I will discuss a few  ideas that an entrepreneur can explore to mediate the negative impact.

In this short blog, I do not have time to give detailed explanations of each factor, but I will give two examples that will provide food for thought. Specifically, I emphasize how certain entrepreneurial characteristics, generally positively associated with entrepreneurial success, can also lead to failure.

Lets first deal with a cognitive skill – ability, generally thought  a key ingredient for entrepreneurial success. There is no question that people with higher abilities are more likely successful when running ventures (especially where there is a technology challenge they can address). However, there are times when their ability to solve sophisticated technology challenges can inhibit technological innovation in a company. This is often seen in a company where the technology leader can discourage innovations that seem to compete with their own ideas. There are few examples where a technology leader, run by the technology innovator, is the first to embrace a competing technology, no matter how it performs in relation to the original technology.

The other entrepreneurial trait I will discuss here is passion. There is lots of evidence that passion is key to success, in fact in the webinar on entrepreneurial characteristics last month, 88% of participants identified passion as a key ingredient of entrepreneurial success. Passion is key, but like the other attributes and traits discussed, excess passion can damage the ventures long-term prospects. Entrepreneurs that become too passionate about their business, often refuse to let go and have challenges delegating or sharing the control of the companies with others. This can limit the growth of the company and its ability to build the key partnerships critical for success. Passion can also be seen as being over-protective, and the parenting analogy is  appropriate, we have all heard of parents that are overprotective of their children. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to get each of these characteristics or traits – just right!

Andy is currently working at the Canadian Innovation Centre and pursuing a Ph.D. in the area of new venture creation at the University of Waterloo. In his spare time, he enjoys teaching technology entrepreneurship at UTM and the University of Waterloo.

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