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Common courtesy is so uncommon that it’s actually charismatic! In the research for ‘Leadership Charisma’ we surveyed almost 400,000 employees worldwide to see what charismatic leaders did that engaged those who worked for them to be so much more productive.  There were lots of factors – one of those was common courtesy. What’s clear from our research is that one of the easiest ways to cultivate a charismatic impact upon your people, and to engage them effectively, is simply to practice basic good manners. 6 Uncommon ‘Common Courtesies’ Here are 6 simple behaviors you, as a leader, should cultivate that will have an enormous impact upon the quality of the relationships you enjoy with your people – things that amount to little more than treating them with everyday respect. Sorry seems to be the hardest word. There is nothing more powerful (because sadly, it is so unusual) than someone in authority owning up when they are in the wrong.  If you offend someone, speak inappropriately crossly with them, argue incorrectly against the merits of their case, indeed if you offend anyone in any way, then make a point of apologizing. Be bigger than the majority – don’t hide behind weak self-justifications or behind your authority.  Make amends.  If the offence was committed in public then the apology should be in public.  If it happens in private then it can be in private.  When you apologize does not couch your words.  It’s better to give no apology than to offer the always insulting ‘non-apologetic apology’. You know the sort – it typically begins with a set of ‘weasel words’ like “If I offended you in any way... read more


How do you build effective productive relationships with your people?  Here’s one critical element that is all too often ignored. Shelly Gable, an assistant Professor of Psychology at University studies “motivation and emotion in close relationships” – and what closer relationship should there be than between a leader and a team member they wish to engage and motivate to great productivity and results? Four ways of responding to good news Gable’s research shows that supporting people in good times, especially when they have good news to share, is just as important as being there for them in tougher times when the news is not so good. She explains that in responding to good news you have just four possible options – and which option you choose as a default when your people bring you good news has an enormous effect on your relationship with them. Let’s say one of your team comes to you and tells you “Hey we won the SAP account!”. Here are the four classes of potential responses: 1. Active Constructive An Active Constructive response is a genuinely enthusiastic response, e.g.: “Congratulations – that is the best news I’ve heard all day. What are the next steps? Did they tell you why you won the business? Will this help you win IBM too?” Genuine Active Constructive responses are typically accompanied by a lot of encouraging nonverbal behavior too – smiling. touching, laughing, making eye contact, being enthusiastic etc.  2. Passive Constructive Responding passively constructively is delivering a neutral and generally disinterested response: “That’s good news, well done” Passive Constructive responses are typically devoid of any enthusiasm... read more

Writing an Outline – Expanding Your Proposal Outline

Writing an outline is straightforward if you use the approach outlined in the introduction to writing proposal outline. If you haven’t yet covered that module then I highly recommend that you do so before continuing here. Use Your Requirements Map to Get Started Quickly In that introductory module you developed a first level outline – the next step in writing an outline is to expand each section’s outline a little further. If you’re writing a business proposal for new business then the requirements analysis is arguably the most important section of your proposal – so we’ll use it as an illustration of how to flesh out a section outline. In the module on client requirements analysis you used a ‘Requirements Map’ to develop a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of your client’s requirements. You can transcribe the content of your Requirement Map straight into the outline for the Requirements section of your proposal. The column headings will become headings under the section title, and each bullet point in your map will find its place as a sub-heading under those main headings. Writing an Outline – Always Include an ‘Introduction’ Added to this section’s outline (see Figure 7 below), and to all subsequent sections’ outlines, is an additional bullet point for the “Introduction” to the section. When writing an outline make introduction a brief overview of the layout of the section, and a summary of the main points in the Requirement Section. This introduction should also refer briefly to any input by the client which helped build the section’s content. Figure 7 is the expanded outline for the Requirements Section.... read more

How to Write Proposals that Win – The ‘Pre-Proposal Review’

Want to know how to write proposals that win more of the time? Get the client involved in producing your proposal! Get Your Client on Your Proposal Team! The only way to be sure that you really understand your client’s requirement well enough, and that your initial thoughts on a possible solution are strong enough to win the business, is to ask the client – and you should do this BEFORE you write your proposal. This is what the Pre-Proposal Review (PPR) is all about, and you should make it an integral part of the proposal process for every business proposal you write from now on. A PPR is a formal meeting with your client, designed to ensure that your understanding of their requirements is accurate and that your initial thoughts on a solution are appealing. With a PPR you effectively draft your client onto your proposal team. Why Should You Always Look for a PPR? Remember, it’s not so much what you don’t know that will hurt you, as what you DO know that’s not true – this is reason enough to ask for a Pre-Proposal/RFP review for each and every deal you pursue. You would be surprised at the number of otherwise excellent salespeople who know how to write proposals well, but who will invest the considerable time, energy and money time to write a business proposal solely on the back of a supplied RFP – and miss the point, and the business, completely because the RFP was not accurate enough. Regardless of the effort that has gone into the production of your client’s RFP, and regardless of... read more


The New Decision Making Process In the first post in this three-part mini-series, ‘How good is your sales forecast?’, we looked at the vital first step of cleaning up your sales forecast. Now that you know which opportunities merit your fullest attention you need to determine precisely what’s going on in those accounts – what stands in the way of a decision in your favor. In good times the power to make purchase decisions is spread far and wide within organizations, with many departments and individuals having independent spending authority. When things become as cautious as they have recently the level at which purchase decisions are made moves up a peg or two (or three). Before you can do anything with your best opportunities you need to understand the game you’re now in – who else is now playing, and what new rules apply. STEP 2: LOOK AT THE NEW PURCHASE PROCESS IN EACH TARGET ACCOUNT Your first port of call must be your current “champion(s)” or “buyer(s)” – those people who previously had the ability to say “yes!” Not all of your current buyers will be straight enough as to inform you outright they no have the power to accept your proposal. There’s a simple “litmus test” that will tell you whether things have changed or not. If you suddenly find that you can’t get a direct answer as to when your proposal will be accepted or rejected, or when a final decision will be made, then this unpredictability is likely coming from the fact that your buyer is no longer in control. And, if the decision is now... read more


Does your small talk ever let you down – do you ever struggle to keep a casual conversation going? For some people small talk and engaging in casual conversation comes absolutely normally – it’s as natural to them as breathing.  Nothing fazes them.  Is it nature or nurture, genes or upbringing – who knows? What I do know for sure is that if small talk and casual conversation doesn’t come naturally to you then, from time to time, you find yourself at a disadvantage if yours is a life in business – especially if you aspire to be either a leader or a salesperson. I’m one of those people who used to struggle with small talk.  I have never had much difficulty speaking when in front of a group, but for smaller casual conversations with strangers I used to have to work hard at it.  But not now – mainly because of a simple piece of advice from my Dad many years ago. The 3 small talk subjects everyone likes to talk about In ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, a book which has dominated the bestseller lists since 1932, Dale Carnegie said ‘Speak in terms of the other person’s interests’. My Dad’s simple advice took this idea very much to heart – he said: “If you ever get stuck for what to say next to keep a conversation flowing, son, always remember the three subjects that everyone wants to talk about – me, myself and I”.  Never a truer word spoken – when you’ve got a tough conversational nut to crack, say with someone who’s reserved, someone who’s simply not... read more

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