Leadership on Point

RLA Named Among Best Management Consulting Firms

May 4, 2017 Richard Levin

Richard Levin

It is with both modesty and humility that I share the good news that Richard Levin & Associates has been named by Forbes as one of the best management consulting firms in America.

What makes me truly happy about this is that we were nominated by an independent and confidential survey of 1100 business executives who were asked by Forbes to identify the 100 best management consulting firms out of nearly 50,000 small and large consultancies nationwide. I am also pleased that our good friends at CFAR, the extraordinary consulting firm with whom we have a deeply valued alliance, made the Forbes list for the second year in a row.

Richard Levin & Associates is truly a dynamic and diverse community. Our team includes more than 35 leadership coaches and management consultants who have created a warm, welcoming culture of collaboration and creativity. They are compassionate, wise, kind people with deep experience in business and organizational behavior. Most important, perhaps, is that we are forever mindful of strengthening our commitments to civil discourse and inclusivity while encouraging leaders to enhance their positive impact, both personally and professionally.

(more…)

Read More +

Words Matter.

September 30, 2016 Sara E. Miller

In this world that we live in, populated by digital media, has the written word become both more AND less important? We have become more sensitive to language than ever before.

 

Of all that was said in the 90 minutes of the first presidential debate, I was struck most by Secretary Hillary Clinton’s “words matter.”

“YES!” I thought to myself: “That’s what I’ve been trying to say!”

In this world that we live in, populated by digital media, I feel that the written word has become both more and less important. In some ways, it matters less if you type “exectuive coahcing richard levin,” because Google’s algorithms have become more adept at knowing what it thinks you really meant:

And yet, the written word has become more crucial than ever. At a time when I (and my peers) get the majority of our news from the internet, rather than the television, the ways in which stories are presented matter all the more—for an example, see the ways in which “winning the debate” was defined differently by different populations (pundits vs. candidates’ supporters, for example), setting both as winners and losers.

It is the reason people are decrying a lack of civil discourse – or decency, or whatever words you choose to call it – we have become more sensitive to language than ever before, while believing it is less important.  It’s the difference in a workplace of saying “Thank you” before asking someone to complete another task. It’s the way in which we demonstrate that we know the value of those who are close to us – or don’t. It’s also the way in which the value (and values!) of a company or organization are exhibited to its stakeholders and the world. In short, without the carefully-chosen written word, we would fail at communicating our values.

In the Jewish tradition, this is the time of year for consideration of the ways in which we have hurt others, whether intentionally or not. It is a time for reflection, reckoning, and reconciliation. Whether words were intended for harm or a careless typo, one is still held accountable.

I believe strongly that #WordsMatter. I believe that words are the building-blocks to networked communities and civil societies creating a #SharedPurpose. And even though some say that “actions speak louder,” I believe that words are the first steps on that path.

Sara E. Miller is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Richard Levin & Associates.

 

Read More +

Ezra Schwartz’s Death Should Be a Wake-Up Call for American Political Leadership

November 24, 2015 Jessica Levin - Guest Author

Violence and tragedy are two words that could not escape our vocabulary this week. In the midst of deadly events in France, Beirut, and Mali, there was a tragic terrorist attack in Israel – the death of five individuals, including 18-year-old American student Ezra Schwartz –that was barely acknowledged by political leaders in this country.

All we can think about is Ezra at age nine, Jessica’s rambunctious, outgoing, and carefree camper. The camper who had so much energy, excitement, and passion. As he grew up, he devoted himself to his studies, his family, his friends, and his community, which included summers at Camp Yavneh in New Hampshire. His commitment to the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam, translated from Hebrew as “repairing the world,” were evident in his last hour of life, when he was shot on his way to deliver food and care packages to Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

Religious persecution, as evident in the case of Ezra and the Israelis who lost their lives last Friday, is ever present. This oppression is not reserved for any particular religious group. Muslims across the world are discriminated against because a percentage of their population are associated with the Haram State and its radical Islamic ideologies. The most recent terrorism across the world has not only revitalized the power of government surveillance and trampled on civil rights, but has catalyzed the rise of religious intolerance in this country. Over half of U.S. governors oppose welcoming Syrian refugees into their states. Some Presidential candidates have urged the U.S. to implement a surveillance system that monitors all Muslims and mosques in this country. What our political institutions fail to recognize is that Syrian refugees are not terrorists. Muslims are not all Islamic extremists. Narrow beliefs make the United States a country filled with religious discrimination, oppression, fear, and hate. We are a country unprepared to manage, accept, respect, and discuss religious diversity.  (more…)

Read More +

Want feedback? Ask for it!

May 19, 2015 Richard Dana

Leaders frequently lament that, “I just can’t get real feedback from my team”.  If this speaks to you, let me ask, “what have you done to solicit feedback?” In my Executive Coaching practice, too often this question is followed by a long pause and then a response like: “when I ask for feedback during team meetings, the room becomes quiet!”

Let’s unpack this dilemma – how many leaders ask for feedback in a way that feels genuine to his or her team? All too often, team members feel the question may be a perfunctory request, or the leader really wants to get on with business. Team members may be uncomfortable giving spontaneous feedback because of observed or feared leader defensiveness. People don’t want to take risks that may jeopardize their jobs.

As a leader, do you really want feedback? If so, try coming from a place of curiosity and express authentic interest in each team member’s perspective. To break through the team meeting impasse, try meeting individually with each team member. Let them know why you’re requesting a meeting, and genuinely express your interest in their perspective. Remember- it’s not all about you! Be curious. Ask about your leadership style and the team’s functionality. Then listen, and don’t interrupt! Receiving feedback requires creating a comfortable, trusting and secure setting. Once your peers and/or direct reports trust your intentions, they will personally disclose.

Requests for feedback may also be specific and substantive, targeting current concerns, decisions and/or recent events. To grow as a leader, broaden the discussion and give team members the opportunity to share their concerns- what is working, and what is not. Solicit their ideas on business challenges and always use the foundation skills of effective listening and communication:

  • Be positive and attentive
  • Be empathic and reflective
  • Seek clarification and understanding
  • Express appreciation
  • Value their opinion- this fosters loyalty and creates a positive culture

Finally, here are three tips that will help you successfully engage and ensure a positive outcome:

  • 80/20 Rule – Leaders using a coaching managerial style spend 80% of their time listening and   20% of their time talking
  • 5 Second Rule – Wait 5 seconds before responding.  Often there is no need to provide a response
  • WAIT – Why Am I Talking?

Business Psychologist Richard Dana is an executive coach and organizational behavior expert specializing in leadership development, executive coaching and team building for a broad range of organizations. www.richarddana.net. 

Read More +

How To Handle A Crisis

April 23, 2015 Barry Wanger - Guest Author


Hardly a day goes by without the leaders of some company or nonprofit organization wondering how to handle the latest crisis. A product recall; an evironmental disaster; a sexual harassment lawsuit; an unexpected scandal. The list goes on and on.

What is shocking to me is how often the crisis is handled ineptly. The most common mistakes:

· Not having a crisis plan in place

· Hoping the media won’t find out about the crisis

· More concerned about potential liability than doing the right thing

· Stonewalling

(more…)

Read More +

Making Lasting Impressions

October 3, 2012 Jeff Golumbuk - Guest Author

 

Having spent the past 23 years in the advertising specialty industry,  I have seen numerous instances where promotional products have been used effectively for brand enhancement, and as a leadership tool as well.

Effective marketing and promotions grab people’s attention and get them to respond. Human nature encourages people to identify with a cause or a person, be attracted to participate, and belong to a certain group.  Promotional products have proven very effective in this regard.  This effectiveness is directly related to the age old cultural norms around the rule of reciprocity.  When you are given something, your likely response is to give something back.  Marketing professionals, as well as good leaders, are keenly aware of this concept and utilize it daily.

(more…)

Read More +

The Myth of Work/Life Balance

August 23, 2012 Richard Levin

I have come to a disappointing realization.  It is now 14 years since my colleagues and I published our much-talked-about book, Shared Purpose, whose premise was that employers, families, communities, governments, and schools must work together to address the work/family imbalance facing working parents.  At the time, we urged our readers not to view “work and family” as a women’s issue, but as a serious challenge we must collectively address as a society.

It is why I am so saddened to read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic: “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”, whose conclusion is that society has reneged on its commitment to working moms and has continued to place the burden of “work/life balance” on women.  (Anne-Marie Slaughter is a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, and the mother of two teenage boys. She served as the director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011.)

(more…)

Read More +

Coming Out of Hibernation: Beware the Bear

April 5, 2012 Richard Levin

Bull Bear Market + Coming Out of Hibernation: Beware the Bear

For five years, we’ve been managing our expectations downward.  It’s become part of our psyche to manage with less, stifle creativity, and look over our shoulders.

Not that we are ready to be doing triple back-flips or anything, but there are signs (dare I say “encouraging” ones?) that we are moving toward a period of renewed growth and hope.  What I’m hearing from the executives I coach – a robust cross-section of American business leaders – is that they expect to do more hiring, plan to modestly introduce new products and services, anticipate keeping salaries relatively flat for a while longer, and worry about volatile gas prices.  That’s why the no-back-flips reference: credit is still tight, energy prices are high, global economies are still unstable, and the overall picture is still shaky.  But business leaders I’m talking to seem encouraged by an increase in U.S. exports, by consumers spending less on overseas goods and services, and by factories gearing up in anticipation of more consumer spending.

It seems safe to start thinking creatively again.

(more…)

Read More +

Let’s Celebrate – Another Female Corporate Executive – CEO!

November 3, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Women CEOs, Leadership, Women, CEO

Although the pay gap has shrunk, women are virtually absent from executive positions.  Corporations and society, in general, have numerous causes from such misrepresentation; the cuprites most sighted are stereotyping, misperceptions about leadership skills, cultural constraints, and the perceived inability for women to make tough managerial decisions. Moreover, women executives are observed having minimal networking groups and opportunities and are often not accepted in male dominate circles.  But IBM has a different opinion; the October 26, 2011, WSJ revealed that after 30 years of impeccable service, Virginia M. Rometty was given the top position of one of the world’s largest and well know corporation.  Rometty now shares corporate prominence with Hewlett-Packard’s CEO, Meg Whitman – how nice!  In the United Kingdom, executive women are also making a difference; their presences in the board rooms and at higher leadership levels show exceptional performance relative to Total Shareholder Return.  Yet, overall, executive and working women are still exposed to discrimination, stereotyping, the glass ceiling, and an expectation to conform to cultural norms and values.

(more…)

Read More +

Critical Thinking and Deconstruction of Leadership Assumptions (Part I)

October 18, 2011 Dr. Johnny Magwood - Guest Author

Critical Thinking and Deconstruction of Leadership Assumptions + Leadership Development + Executive Coaching + Richard Levin & Associates

As professionals, we embrace creative and critical thinking in a manner to take on exciting initiatives and provide new opportunities for our businesses and personal improvement.  Prior to formal training and exposure to the nuances of critical thinking, we may have found professional socialization and interaction either challenging or cumbersome.  During our professional development, several business situations may have presented small and large problems for us.  These difficulties may have resided in executive leadership’s politics, shadowing role models, and our inability to demonstrate a questioning attitude.  Often, we place ourselves under the assumption that we are effectively exposed to refined relationships and we are properly functioning in our professional world.  Routinely, we may be deceiving ourselves into believing that we are performing well in various business settings.  However, if we truly reflect on our daily professional situations; peer and team dynamics; and our success or failure within our personal interaction; we may discover that our assumptions are actually blind spots.  These blind spots may be a result of our lack of creative and critical thinking.  Ultimately, our goal is to uncover and confront these assumptions and establish corrective measures to deconstruct our leadership suppositions.

(more…)

Read More +