Add to Technorati Favorites

Building Business Value | Corporate Management Strategies

Three Keys to Building a Great Stakeholder Leadership Plan

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 @ 13:09 PM

Most of us can identify our stakeholders, make sure we really understand their needs and desires are, and scope out a general approach for prioritizing and dealing with each stakeholder. To become really effective at stakeholder leadership, you’ll need a specific plan of action, based on what they need or want from you and how you will satisfy that need or want.

Now, I’m guessing that this is pretty easy to figure out when you’re thinking about your number-one stakeholder. You can probably do it in your sleep.

It’s the stakeholders on the periphery who are more challenging. These might be people you haven’t even spent much time with. But suppose you’ve gotten into some problems on a project and this one stakeholder’s concerns have to be addressed. If you haven’t thought much about this stakeholder, you may be in for a bumpy ride.

When you’re trying to make specific plans for satisfying a stakeholder’s needs, there are three key issues to consider:

Form. What form of information do they need to receive? Is it a report, is it you swinging by and speaking to them. Also, are they expecting some kind of blueprint or document or physical deliverable?

Periodicity. This is really just a fancy way to say how often you have to meet with them. How often do they have to see results from you? Do you need to submit a report at the end of every day, or every week, or every month? How often do they need to make contact with you?

Tags: leadership, stakeholders

Serving Everyone and Serving No One

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 @ 12:07 PM

I recently gave a keynote address to a mid market construction company and to wrap up the speech, we conducted a stakeholder leadership exercise.  While I was wandering around the audience during the exercise,  I came across a project manager who was struggling with the concept of prioritizing his stakeholders and what was even more challenging, he was struggling with the idea that he could not have ten #1 priorities!  He had four customers listed, his division VP, the CEO of the company, two estimators and two supervisors.  They were all #1 priorities! Right?  Wrong!

Let's think about that for a minute.  Can you really serve ten stakeholders at the same level? And even if you had ten #1 stakeholders, would you be able to exceed their expectations?  Probably not.

Stakeholder leadership forces you to make choices.  To choose your stakeholders, prioritize those stakeholders, fully understand the needs of those stakeholders and to choose a realistic plan to meet those stakeholder needs.

Can you serve everyone?  Learn to make tough choices!  It doesn't mean you're blowing some of your stakeholders off, it does mean you've made a business decision on who to focus on and when.


Tags: priorities, leadership, stakeholders

Are You More Comfortable Selling or Serving?

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 13:07 PM

Whenever I ask a technical or engineering group, or in fact, almost any group of workers that are not sales professionals the question - "Are you more comfortable selling or serving?", the answer always leans to "serving". Many of us feel that "selling" is actually a four-letter word!  I do my job, I do it well, I give everything I have to the customer - and then some.  Don't ask me to 'sell' anything!

Let's relook at this question through the eyes of a customer that really trusts you.  The most trusted advisors are motivated by doing the next right thing for their customers.  These advisors have a strong competitive drive, not so much aimed at the competition, but in finding new ways to be of greater service to the customer.  They have enough self-confidence to listen to their customers with out pre-judging.  Also attributes of a world class sales professional!

Think about your role as a trusted advisor.  If your customers trust you, they probably also trust the products and services your company offers. It is really your responsibility to show your customers more of those trusted products and services - to help make them more effective and efficient in their markets.  You see you are not really selling additional products and servies -- you're sharing with your customers, procucts and services you trust that will make their lives better.

So are you more comfortable selling or serving?  Sometimes they are the same thing!


Tags: perspective, sales, trusted advisor, customer

Building TRUST

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, May 19, 2015 @ 14:05 PM

Creating a 'culture of ownership' can sometimes seem like a full time job in itself.  The signs of growth; initiative, accountability, team spirit and external focus should be regularly monitored.  The more you understand the signs, the better you'll be at creating the environment where everyone on your team 'gets it'.  But the benefits to you, your team, your customer and your company are tremendous!

As you make your way around the workplace this week, as you talk with peers, bosses and team members, take the pulse of your culture.  How are you doing as a leader?  Do you need to teach more?  Do you need to reward differently?  Do you need to unconditionally support more?  Do you need to share more information?  Are you as trustworthy as you can be?  Think TRUST!

Tags: corporate culture, leadership, trust, Reward Systems

Employee Engagement - Be Interested in What Their Interests Are

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, May 12, 2015 @ 08:05 AM

One of my favorite questions to ask in our public workshops are the questions on the topic of employee engagement.  We'll cover the material on how well a supervisor or manager has aligned the interest level of the employee with the opportunities that exist within the company.  Of course, the basis for determining whether an employee is engaged in their daily work is to first know what really interests them.  So the trick question is "what interests the members of your team?"  There is not a great deal of rocket science or clairvoyant behavior required to divine the answer.  It is pretty simple ... you have to ask.

So before you close the doors this week, before you call it a day on Friday, before you turn out the last light or send in the last weekly report - make sure you've spent the time to get to know each of your team members just a bit better.

What interests your team?

Tags: effective management, communication, employee engagement

Steps for Good Decision Making

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 @ 10:04 AM

Steps for Good Decision MakingHow many decisions do you make in the course of the day?  Five, ten, hundreds?

Some are as trivial as Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks? Others are more operational, such as signing a training request form or agreeing to new terms with a vendor.  Still some of your decisions will be strategic and require a bit more thought.  In these instances, are you able to be unbiased in your decision-making?

We are all products of experiences, education, culture and our environment so it is only natural that we carry the biases we develop into most business situations.  There is an old saying that "a mind is like a parachute, it works best when open!"  The same can be said for decision-making.  Being open to alternatives can lead to some amazing results.

Step 1 - Get Clarity.  I can't tell you the number of times I hear managers and leaders shout out solutions before they truly understand the problem.  Get the facts, all the facts!  To paraphrase Steven Covey, seek first to clarity. 

Step 2 - Root out the Cause.  Root cause analysis is predicated on the belief that problems are best solved by trying to correct or eliminate root causes rather than administering to the symptoms of the problem.  Get to the root of the problem.

Step 3 - Analyze the Alternatives. Analyze your alternatives and consider the risk and return on each of your alternatives.  A word of warning about this step - beware of analysis paralysis!  Socialize your alternatives but don't fall prey to inaction.

Step 4 - Implement and Evaluate.  Don't assume your job is done once you've made and implemented your decision.  Perhaps the results were not what you had hoped for.  Your alternatives may have uncovered the very best solution and your implementation was faulty.  Or maybe you never actually uncovered the root cause!  Whatever the case, constantly evaluate your decision process and don't be afraid to Get Clarity,  Root out the Cause Again and come up with another approach.

In most cases, we progress through this process without a thought.  But when the stakes are high and the consequences severe, check your ego at the door, manage your biases and make a decision that will stand the test of time.





Tags: effective management, communication, decision making, challenges

5 Beliefs of a Leader

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 13:03 PM

Anyone who has worked in a business that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit knows how exhilarating it is. You can feel a buzz in the air. The action on the shop floor and in the hallways is so intense that coming out of your office is like merging into rush­ hour traffic. Decisions are made on the fly without the need for formal meetings or approvals. The esprit de corps is palpable. The whole team pitches in to do what it takes to succeed.

When entrepreneurial spirit permeates every corner of an organization, the entrepreneur lurking in each of us awakens. Think about what characterizes a successful entrepreneur. She has tremendous belief in her abilities and in her vision for the business. Now, imagine that every person in your organization shares this same belief. How powerful! Just imagine the possibilities! Lets look at the five key entrepreneurial beliefs.

- Belief in the Leader: When everyone in your organization believes in you as a leader, a high level of trust develops. Belief in the leader means the people in your organization trust that you and the other leaders have integrity, competence and vision. It means they believe you have the business acumen and talent to succeed, and they believe you are trustworthy. Do people believe in your leadership?

- Belief in the Purpose: Most people want to be a part of something big. And they want to believe in the purpose of their organization. Leading companies have a strong purpose. For example, the stated purpose of Whole Foods Market is to allow common folks to buy the same high ­quality foods as rich people can. Microsoft’s stated purpose is to enable people to have information at their fingertips. The Body Shop promotes social responsibility. Corporations with a clear purpose make it easier for employees to gain clarity on their personal mission. Employees know the business is trying to achieve something important and meaningful. They want more than a job. They want to be part of changing the world, even if it’s just their own little corner of it. To discover your company’s purpose, ask yourself why your organization is important. If your company went out of business tomorrow or was reorganized out of existence, why would your customers care?

- Belief in the Operating Model: An operating model is the integration and interaction of your business constructs: the policies, procedures, processes and structures of your business in dynamic interchange. It’s how your business works. And your stakeholders need to believe in it. Whether you know it or not, stakeholders are constantly passing judgment on your operating model. When employees believe in your operating model, they understand it. They understand the rationale behind the processes, policies, and procedures you have implemented. Equipped to make decisions, they frame every decision in the purpose of the company and in an understanding of business financials. Your job as a leader is to share the operating model with all your employees so that they can demonstrate their knowledge and align their daily activities with the purpose of the business.

- Belief in Empowerment: The real benefit of working in a high-octane entrepreneurial environment is that people can act on their own with the full support and backing of the organization. All employees should act like stewards or owners of the business. When employees believe in empowerment, they believe in the organization and in themselves. They know the organization supports their actions. Most importantly, they know they are allowed to fail. Mistakes are tolerated because your employees learn from their mistakes and avoid repeating them. People believe in empowerment when they have the authority to act, the ability to act and support when they do act.

- Belief in the Reward: When employees believe in the reward, they believe that when the business succeeds, they will succeed. They are willing to give their best efforts on behalf of the business because they know their personal success is tied to the success of the business. Help your people stay focused on the big picture. In turn, they will try to improve the business so that their reward increases. Employees will think and act like entrepreneurs—like owners of the business. They’ll protect the bottom line as if it’s their own because it is their own!

Leaders must constantly strive to promote the “Five Beliefs” and build a winning culture. If you do, you’ll begin to see competitive energy resonating around the clock. Everyone in the organization will focus on winning and satisfying new customers. A sense of purpose will begin to dominate the work environment, and the entrepreneurial spirit will come alive. Do you work in a high-octane entrepreneurial environment?

Tags: Ownership Culture, corporate culture, leadership, entrepreneur, operating model

Are You a Giver or Taker?

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 08:11 AM

Give and TakeAdam Grant has a sneaky way of getting under your skin!  The Wharton business school professor and author of the book “Give and Take” really challenges you to look at the world and look at those you work with as givers, takers or matchers.  You can’t help but categorize yourself and just about every other colleague you’ve worked with over the years as you go through this terrific book.  At times you want to flinch, challenge his premises, but then he counters with one great study after another.  What makes the book eminently readable however, are the anecdotes.  From studies of medical school students to anecdotes on investment bankers, Grant leverages his background as a social scientist and presents an alarmingly clear premise on who indeed comes out on top – the giver, the taker or the matcher.

While in the middle of this book I attended a dreaded networking event.  We all attend events like these.  The uncomfortable moment when you enter the room and your worse fear is realized … you do not know a soul in the room!  On the car ride over, I formulated a plan.  I would attend this networking event as a “100% committed giver”.  I vowed to help as many people in the room as I could.  I vowed to connect people, really get to know a handful of people and see if there was anything I could do to leverage my network to make their lives better.

And the results?  Wow!  I’m not 100% sure how all the pieces will fall, but I left that event so much more energized than when I entered.  I was able to connect a current client with a private equity group and wouldn’t you know it, I picked up a client!  All because I was having a blast “giving”!

I’ve always felt that I was a giver, but from time to time I fall into the matcher category and there certainly have been times when, generally under stress, that I could be categorized as a taker.

Grant’s terrific book will convince you that “good guys” can finish first.  In fact, givers just don’t win out over takers – in the long run they smoke their counterparts.  Yet givers do it because it is the right thing to do – it just happens to be a great business strategy and an awesome way to conduct your life.

Tags: information, committment, strategy, client relationships, challenges, key success factors, business intelligence

Book Review - “Hunting in a Farmer’s World”

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 11:07 AM
Hunting in a Farmer's WorldJohn Dini has been at this game for quite some time.  His book, “Hunting in a Farmer’s World” is an insightful discussion of why business owners are so often different from the people that work for them.  I was attracted to the title for multiple reasons.  On the first order, I’m a business owner and am always interested in how the minds’ of other business owners work.  Secondly, the celebration of the entrepreneur is a fascinating topic on its own, and thirdly, I grew up on a farm!  It was the trifecta!

Dini takes a classic business paradoxes (leadership vs. management) and weaves the story for how entrepreneurs are most successful.  He breaks down what so many entrepreneurs find so intriguing about their career choice (hunting) and then paints a picture of how they should manage their way to success.

Those of you that are considering starting your own business will benefit from the roadmap as well as the seemingly hundreds of stories and anecdotes Dini has accumulated over the years of coaching and facilitating executive peer boards.  Old hands will find valuable the solid advice on selling and sales management, hiring and building infrastructure (those nasty management constructs!).

John Dini’s book is timely, well thought out and eminently readable.  A great read for an aspiring entrepreneur, a business owner in the thick of operating or one ready to cash in her chips.

Tags: performance culture, leadership books, Business Development, entrepreneur, management, business intelligence

Multi-site Business? Deploy Voice in the Cloud, On-site or Leverage Both Models

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 09:07 AM

Guest post by Jeff Nolte, President of Chesapeake Telephone Systems in Millersville, Maryland. He can be reached at 410-850-4848 or


Phone systems have traditionally been deployed on-site, but the lure of the Cloud is strong.  Many multi-site businesses like a combination of both - deploying an on-site system at headquarters and Cloud systems for the branch offices.  IP networking enables all sites to be connected, providing a simplified dialing plan, consistent features, and centralized management.     


There are many reasons why on-site phone systems are still a favorite. 

  • Control – Many companies have a long history of buying and managing their own IT systems. If you like the control of running technology in-house, then an on-site UC system is for you.
  •  Functionality – If you need to take advantage of customized features, require integration with other applications, or want advanced call-center capabilities, an on-site solution delivers more flexibility.
  •  Compliance Requirements – If your organization strives for uninterrupted communications or is under strict regulatory requirements, an on-site system may be the best fit.
  •  Expense Strategy – If you prefer to make capital investments for infrastructure and depreciate the costs over time, an on-site UC system can be cheaper over the long haul. 


Cloud UC can be a good fit for small to mid-sized businesses or an enterprise with smaller, remote offices.

  •  Predictable Costs – Cloud-based UC eliminates the need for upfront investment. Costs become operational expenses and are predictable as they are based on the number of users.
  •  Rapid Deployment – You don’t need an IT staff to buy, install and configure your system, servers and storage. Order only the capabilities you need now. 
  •  Simplicity – With Voice-as-a-service, maintenance and support are simplified and upgrades are automatic. 
  •  Pay as you Grow – Whether your business is growing or needs to scale down in a pinch, a cloud service can adapt. You can fulfill peak demand for functions like a conference, or for temporary deployments.

 You Choose

Today you have the flexibility of deploying Business Communications either on-site or in the cloud - or combining both as a hybrid to exploit the best of both worlds.


Tags: priorities, execution, communication, Leverage, business intelligence

Subscribe to this Blog

"Defying Gravity"

25 Mistakes Your Company Could be Making Right Now ~

Click me

Marty O'Neill

Marty O'Neill




Keynote Speaker

Corporate Seminars

Marty O'Neill is available for keynote presentations at corporate events and conferences nation wide.

About Marty O'Neill

My Books


The Power of an Internal Franchise


Building Business Value


Act Like an Owner