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Joyce Bender’s Trip to Seoul with the State Department

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Variety

Bender

 

May 22, 2016 – written by Joyce Bender of Disability Matters:

Today was the final day of my U. S. State Department International Information Program visit to meet organizations that focus on employing South Koreans with disabilities.  I have enjoyed every meeting, every presentation, every person I met, and my new friends from the embassy.  They make me proud to represent our country.

Our first meeting of the day was with the Korean Employment Security Association for the Disabled to talk about employment and the Disability Equality Index (DEI) founded by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the US Business Leadership Network.  The 20 people in the room were all people with disabilities focused on creating employment opportunities, and all were very passionate about their work.  They want to learn from the U.S., about successful practices.  I spoke first and then I introduced Mary to explain the DEI.  Mary was part of the DEI Advisory Committee that worked to build this benchmarking tool that scores companies on their disability inclusion policies and practices. She gave a thorough presentation and answered many questions. At the end, we were in a group photo and all of sudden they all shouted—“Lead On.”  I was so shoGeon Hyeong and Joyce Bendercked!  I did not know that our friend from the State Department told them about Justin Dart’s famous words that I had taught at the Center for Independent Living earlier in the week in Changwon.  I was just overwhelmed! The group was so appreciative and very gracious. They escorted us out and were thanking us as we left the building.

We left with the embassy delegates and went to a luncheon sponsored by Women with Disabilities Arts and Culture. We were with a small group in a beautiful restaurant with absolutely delicious food.    The President of the organization, Mi Yeon Kim, was our host and she was just so wonderful.  She is a woman with a disability.  She uses a wheelchair, and is the sharpest and most professional woman. Her mentor is Judy Heumann and you can tell by the great impact she made.  She was eager to learn from me how we have been successful in the U.S. in the area of working with private sector businesses to include people with disabilities.  When the luncheon ended, she was so sad that I had to leave.  She told me she had read about me and hoped she could spend a longer time with me.  When she comes to the U.S. this year, we will get together.

After lunch, we had a short meet and greet with the Korean Differently Abled Federation.  Finally, our last meeting and presentation was with the Korea Disabled People’s Development Institute.  We spoke to about 40 professionals who work with people with disabilities to train them for employment.  They wanted me to share how Bender Consulting was successful in the U.S. and other best practices.

When the day ended, I just could not believe all the people I met on this visit and all of the productive meetings we had.  It was so exciting to spend time with my new Korean friends and see the hope in their eyes when we discussed employment. After all, employment means freedom—freedom to live like everyone else—the dream in America and in South Korea.

We may be worlds apart, but our fight is the same.

 

Scaling Up Your Business – The Do’s And Don’ts

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Business
Scaling Up Your Business – The Do’s And Don’ts

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When talking about business reinvention, we tend to focus on the big company’s need to rethink their strategy. The fact is that even young companies have to face the challenge of “transform or die”.

When a company is first started, it often focuses a lot on survival and how to find enough customers to sustain its business. Only 4% of the U.S. companies ever reach $1 million in sales. The few who

make it to the next phase soon realize that they have other challenges that are equally daunting, such as “how to scale up the company to meet the growing demand and navigate increasing complexity?” Leaders have to find new ways to drive and manage growth while making sure the organization that is growing in size is moving in sync.

The Don’ts

But are all businesses scalable? Juli Between, Managing Partner of Pivot Point Partners doesn’t think so. She pointed out on the Business Reinvention show that companies sometimes fail to scale up because they made the mistake of focusing only on products and not enough on building necessary infrastructure to support the growth, or favoring loyalty over performance. Good leaders understand the importance of diversity and don’t not just hire people who are similar to themselves.

At early-stage companies, the leaders often have to wear multiple hats and work on tactical issues. But as the company grows and new talents are brought in, the leader must shift their focus to develop strategic and system thinking while delegating more and more of the tasks to his or her team. This is one of the biggest leadership challenges I observe when working with fast-growing companies. Leaders who are unwilling to delegate could risk being too task-oriented and failing to see the big picture and set a long-term vision to drive growth. When leaders spread too thin, they slow down the decision-making process and prevent their companies from responding to the market change quickly. This often demotivates their best performers who are eager to help the company make the leap to the next level and hungry for new challenges. Leaders risk losing their best performers when they don’t delegate and give the employees the opportunity to grow by taking on new responsibilities.

The Do’s

1. Establish Key Performance Indicators – Having a scoreboard builds a great foundation for the leaders to communicate their visions, create alignment, identify opportunities and set priorities.

Betwee suggests that companies track financial indicators, customer satisfaction which includes customer adoption and retention, operations efficiency, technology performance and talent management. Because having great talent is the key to growth strategy, I also encourage leaders to review their leadership team and ask if they would rehire the executives – why and why not. This helps the leaders identify the organizational gaps as well as talent development needs.

2. Develop System Thinking – I once asked Craig Barrett who was the CEO and Chairman of Intel, how to keep a company innovative. “Get out of their way!” was his answer. It may sound over-simplified and counter-intuitive but it is in fact words of wisdom from an executive who successfully positioned Intel to be the market leader following the dotcom bust in 2000. This is particularly relevant to executives who are leading company transition from a small organization to a growth engine. As the company grows, the leader’s job is to make sure the company has the infrastructure to support business growth as well as talent development so the employees can do what they do best and focus on growing the company.

Leaders should shift from “telling to listening”, said Nanette Miller, West-Coast Partner-in-Charge at Marcum LLP who has worked closely with start-up and emerging companies. Listening to and learning from employees and customers help leaders develop peripheral vision to understand the overall market and company dynamics. Having system thinking is the key to developing strategic thinking and essential to creating a winning long-term vision for the company. Empower your employees to do the other tasks so you can focus on the big picture and not get buried in the details. Include your leadership team when working on the overall company strategy.

3. Hire Slowly and Fire Quickly – A good strategy only accounts for a small percentage of your success. What’s even more important is how well the strategy is executed, and having the right talent is the first step to ensuring successful implementation.

Great leaders know how to pick the right talent who shares the same values and can complement their own strengths and weaknesses. They “look for people who are better than they are but share a common set of values”, said Daniel Isenberg, Adjunct Professor at Columbia School of Business.

Many companies rush to hire new talent to cope with the increasing demand. Few take the time to craft a good job description and think through qualifications and qualities needed to succeed in the job. In some cases, companies fail to redefine the job and continue to use old job description after the role has evolved. If you don’t know what you are looking for, chances are you won’t find what you need.

Another challenge growth-stage companies may face is that they sometimes outgrow their employees. Some employees or leaders thrive in a small-business environment but struggle in a more complex organization. As the company grows, they are no longer the right talent for the jobs that they have been in. Sometimes an employee’s performance goes from good to bad because (s)he does not understand the changing need, or does not have the skills needed for the new role. The manager needs to step in and help develop new skills by providing coaching or training programs.

If the employee is not coachable or is not interested in the new skills or responsibilities, the company can offer job rotation opportunities to move the employee into a role that is more suitable for him. If there are no other opportunities for the employee, the company may have to consider letting the employee go. This is a very uncomfortable situation. Some leaders choose not to deal with the problem. Over time, the low performance affects the morale and efficiency, and creates a toxic environment. Instead of fearing the potential consequence of firing an employee, the leader must also consider the price the company has to pay for not dealing with the problem.

4. Strengthen Leadership Skills – Most discussions about growth strategy focuses on management skills and financial discipline. What’s also critical is for the executive’s capacity to  adapt to change and take on new challenges.

Developing a strong self-awareness is the foundation to great leadership, particularly in the time of change. As the company begins to experience growing pains, the leader has to be alert and sense when the old way of doing things is no longer effective. If the growth is changing your organization, it’s not hard to understand why the leader may also need to adjust themselves along the way, either their management style, the frequency of communication, or the way of they look at the market. Leaders have to tune in to the internal and external environments around them so they can be aware when the need for change arises. It also helps to work with an executive coach who help leaders see their blind spots and serve as a thought leader.

In addition to trust and team building, leaders should also hone in their skills to inspire others. In a fast-growing environment, the employees are often asked to do more with less so the leader must be able to communicate a compelling vision to motivate the team to work towards the goals despite lack of resources and certainty.

But most importantly, enjoy the incredible journey.  Scaling your business will not only teach you about leadership but also help you grow as a person.

 

About the Author: Nancy Lin  is an executive coach and a business consultant at Change Agent SF.  She is also the host of the Business Reinvention show on Voice America Business channel. She works with leaders at growth-stage companies to transform the way they look at their business and leadership. Nancy brings to her executive coaching and podcast a strong understanding of business, having worked for Yahoo, DHL, Johnson & Johnson and Pepsi. You can reach her on Twitter @BizReinvention

Vladimir Pozner Says U.S. and Russia May Be Headed For Second Cold War

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Vladimir Pozner Says U.S. and Russia May Be Headed For Second Cold War

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Recent tensions between Russia and the United States have caused many experts to speculate on the possibility of a second Cold War era. When asked whether the two countries were in any danger of returning to the former standoff, renowned journalist and foreign policy expert Vladimir Pozner responded, “I think we are.”

Pozner, who appeared live from Moscow on The Costa Report, says Russia sees NATO as a dangerous threat – and NATO views Russia similarly. Central to the current divide is the 1990 agreement struck between Secretary of State James Baker and Gorbachev, which stated that NATO would not move eastward once a unified Germany joined NATO. But this agreement was struck with the Soviet Union. Once the Soviet Union fell, NATO claimed it was no longer bound to honor the agreement and began moving troops and weapons eastward toward Russia. Pozner compared Russia’s response to the U.S. reaction to Russian missiles in Cuba.

Adding fuel to the fire is the growing anti-American sentiment in Russia – something the U.S. media has been dangerously under-reporting. During the Cold War, Pozner says “the average Russian was not anti-American.” While Russian citizens may have disliked the U.S. President or policies, they made a distinction between the leadership of the U.S. and Americans in general. But recently this has changed. Pozner points to an “extremely disturbing” trend, wherein modern Russians see Americans as “brash, brutal…wanting to impose their system on everybody.” Though Putin continues to be “demonized in the Western media,” Pozner reports that 86% of the Russian population – a population who does not normally support authoritarian leaders like Putin – agrees with his stance on the Ukraine, Crimea, and with the U.S.

When asked if there was anything the U.S. or NATO could do to begin de-escalating the tension, Pozner suggested a public statement from NATO. He believes an acknowledgement that they would refrain from admitting the Ukraine to NATO for 100 years would go a long way to put Russia at ease.

To listen to the full interview with Vladimir Pozner, visit The Costa Report.

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