Archive for July, 2014

As part of my professional development, I regularly read books about leadership, team building and how others have succeeded in business and in life.  They have often served as inspiration for many ideas and initiatives which are currently established here at the Firm.  One of the best books I’ve recently read is Leadership Excellence: the Seven Sides of Leadership for the 21st Century by Pat Williams, a motivational speaker and sports executive currently serving as SVP of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.  A true team leader, his biggest achievements include winning the 1983 World Championship title with the Philadelphia 76ers and being a partner in the creation of the Orlando Magic. 


Leadership Excellence is a summary of hundreds of Williams’ personal interviews, drawing upon leaders in business, sports, religion and politics to distill great principles that apply to leaders of any age, background and setting. He has bucketed these traits into what he describes as, “Leadership’s Seven Sides: Vision, Communication, People Skills, Character, Competence, Boldness and a Servant’s Heart.”  These seven sides of leadership are timeless.  This book shares many inspiring stories and great insights proving his theory that regardless if it’s King Solomon, President Lincoln, Coach John Wooden, Billy Graham, Jack Welch or Steve Jobs, the essential principles of leadership are always the same and will produce magical results. 


We are fortunate to have Pat visiting our firm and presenting on leadership on November 18th as part of our firm wide CPE that day.


Over the next few months, I will dive a little deeper into each of the Seven Sides as they apply to our firm and the Withum Way.  I invite you to purchase the book and follow along.


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The only thing that is constant is change, as they say. Moving forward and staying competitive requires constant adaptability, growth and development.  In other words, change in our firm, its departments and our processes is inevitable in order to remain at the top of our game. But understandably, change often begets anxiety.  There are positive ways to present change to your staff and team members in order to relieve those uncomfortable feelings. I recently read an article which outlined the “HEATING” process which can helpful in “warming up” your staff members to change:


H         Honesty: Speak openly and honestly as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have all the answers, let people know you intend to get them.

E          Empathy: Establish an atmosphere of connection, concern and caring.

A         Acknowledgement: Let people know their questions are important. Answer or follow through on all questions.

T          Time frame: Tell people when they can expect more information.

I           Information: Explain from which sources the information is coming and what the information will entail.

N         Next Steps: Let people know the next step, even if it’s just another meeting.

G         Gratitude: Thank people in advance for being patient.


Keep all staff and team members informed and involved in the process as much as possible while in the midst of change.  It will lead to happier, more positive attitudes and productive results.

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You know these people: the ones that seemingly always have a cloud over their heads; they look at everything with a glass-half-empty perspective; they are chronic complainers known to rarely have a nice thing to say about anything.  Often, these people are not even aware of their own negative attitudes because thinking negatively has become a way of life.  Help zap that negativity and turn those frowns upside-down.  Here are a few tips you can try to foster a more optimistic, positive environment when faced with a “Debbie Downer”:

  • Model positive behavior. Your mood and your behaviors are watched and interpreted by everyone around you. Be a good role model, maintaining your composure and a positive attitude that’s authentic.
  • Search out and identify the positives.  Find that silver lining in the cloud! We have an amazing ability to construct our inner world and outlook, to use self-talk to either build ourselves up, or tear ourselves down. Give yourself permission to reframe your thoughts, to focus on the opportunities and positives, and not the drawbacks and negative consequences.  Help the people around you focus on the 90% that we still have rather than the 10% we have lost. See bad events as setbacks, transitory not permanent, and focus on what you can do to learn and grow from it.
  • Provide positive recognition. One of the most powerful gifts you can give someone is to publicly share their good work and victories. This underscores your belief in their potential, and suddenly they are capable of accomplishing so much more, which in turn reaps rewards in productivity.
  • Refuse to fall into the negativity trap yourself.  When there is negativity and distractions around you, it is very important that you keep your eyes focused on the road ahead, on the things that you can do and control. Keep that optimistic attitude.
  • Brainstorm with your team to discover creative ways to make the work environment more positive and pleasant. Trying new things keeps people motivated and stimulates the mind when problem solving. Innovative thinking always has a few stumbling blocks, so maintaining a safe, non-judgmental environment to express and experiment in is very important to employee morale.

Whether your clients, co-workers, or even your own family or circle of friends, help zap the negativity around you with a positive, cooperative attitude.

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