Train Leaders With a Staff Ride

The concept of a Staff Ride is learning from history. It has been said, “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This may be ok, if everything goes according to plan, but the old military axiom more often rings true: when the first shot is fired, the plan often goes out the window. So the question then becomes, how can you best learn from history.

Since the late 1800’s military officer’s have learned leadership lessons by participating in Staff Rides. They began as training exercises for the German General Staff and were later adapted by the US Army. The Staff Ride is usually conducted in three distinct phases: (1) study a historical battle, (2) discuss what happened and what lessons can learned from the future, and then (3) conduct a site visit to walk the terrain and understand what happened. When Staff Rides were conducted on European battlefields for the German General Staff, they usually studied battles from the Napoleonic wars. The US Army often utilized battles from the American Civil War as the basis for their Staff Rides. Although the technology of war changed over the years, the concepts of leadership and strategy often remain constant despite more modern weapons and systems. By studying how leaders dealt with the challenges of the past, it is possible to glean insights for the future. The application of lessons learned can allow leaders to avoid costly mistakes when they find themselves dealing with leadership challenges in the future.

The concept of a Staff Ride has now been expanded. Although the military still uses Staff Rides to train officers, other organizations have now benefited from similar learning exercises. For example, the US Forest Service conducts Staff Rides to train their leaders to fight forest fires and save lives. The use the same basic format: study an historical example, hold a robust discussion, and walk the terrain. By taking future leaders on Staff Rides, they can impart valuable lessons, including some rather difficult lessons about how some fire fighters lost their lives because they failed to take the correct actions while fighting a wildfire. These are clearly lessons that you want to impart to future leaders so that history does not repeat itself.

Corporations are now also using Staff Rides to train their leaders. There are valuable lessons that can be learned from history. Business leaders can benefit from using historical examples including studying military history to learn valuable leadership lessons. They can use the same three part format, however, with the help of a skilled facilitator, they can also bridge the gap from the lessons learned from history to apply them to contemporary business. Dealing with the basic challenges of  leadership, decision making, allocating resources, and overcoming obstacles are but a few of the fundamental challenges for leaders that transcend time and circumstances. Understanding how leaders have dealt with these challenges in the past, even in distinctly different circumstances, provides insights for those who take the time to study how they would deal with these same issues. Then, when they are faced with future challenges, they can fall back on the “decision process” even though the circumstances make be quite different. In many ways this is the same process used by leading business schools to promote learning through case studies; however, the focus of a Staff Ride is on learning leadership and strategy and not financial decisions.  There are lots of fine business schools that can teach the fundamentals of finance, but leadership is an art that requires thoughtful preparation, reflection, and application.  A Staff ride is one way to provide leaders with the opportunity to prepare and reflect on how they would apply lessons from the history.

Using Chinese Business Cards Translation

Chinese business cards translation means two-sided business cards. These are not typically used in the West, but are very common in Asian countries – particularly China, which is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

In China, business people carry cars that are printed on both sides. One side is in the international language of business and commerce, which for better or worse, is English. On the other side is the same information in pinyin, or traditional Chinese characters.

If you know anything about China, you know that the country is very diverse, not only culturally but linguistically as well. Although Mandarin and Cantonese are both forms of the Chinese language, they are as different as Spanish and Russian. There are numerous other dialects of Chinese as well, not all (or even very many) of which are mutually intelligible. How ever is one version of Chinese Business Cards Translation going to help if your business takes you to both Hong Kong and Beijing?

The good news is that when it comes to pinyin characters, it doesn’t matter. Although the spoken dialects of Chinese differ from each other – in some cases, dramatically – all use the same pinyin characters for the same word-concepts. It is as if, instead of using the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets, all European languages used pictographs – so an upward-pointing triangle with a single vertical line at the bottom would be ├írbol in Spanish and dyerevo in Russian, but would have the meaning of “tree” in both languages.

The use of pinyin goes even further than that. Vietnamese has no linguistic relation to any dialect of Chinese beyond the fact that the former has taken numerous loan-words from the latter. However, someone from Vietnam could write a note to a Chinese using pinyin characters that the latter would be able to read and understand. Chinese Business Cards translation will unable you to use your business cards almost anywhere from Singapore to Manchuria.

The key to conducting business in Asian countries – particularly China – is to establish rapport and trust; in essence, relationships. Unlike the US where the government is generally (though indirectly) chosen by corporate business leaders, China is the opposite. Those who run the large the large private corporations are chosen by government officials. What the two countries do have in common is an almost complete lack of any sort of regulation controlling corporate behavior; therefore, personal trust is of paramount importance when a Chinese businessperson is deciding with whom they will work.

Chinese business card translation is the first step toward establishing those relationships, by demonstrating that you are interested in and have respect for their culture and language.

Britain Proves Top Spot For Business Events

With London once again voted the best European city for business, and Birmingham and Leeds also getting nods in the survey, there has never been a better time to hold an event or incentive in Britain.

In the annual survey of business leaders conducted by Cushman Wakefield, London held on to the top spot for the best business city in Europe. Birmingham made the most progress this year, rising seven places in the overall rankings, and sharing the top spot with Leeds in the value for office space category.

In addition to its cities status as top business destinations, Britain boasts over 7,000 conference venues and 40,000 quality assured places to stay. There’s plenty of heritage and culture in Britain to enrich down time as well, with 14 National Parks, over 2,500 museums and galleries, and 27 World Heritage Sites. Varied landscapes boast the Cornish coast, the Scottish highlands, and everything in between.

If you prefer a more laid-back selection of activities between business commitments, Britain is home to over 14,000 pubs and 2,000 golf courses, all waiting to welcome business travellers in Britain. Britain has a long history of hosting world-class events, from international football and cricket to the famous tennis at Wimbledon. Britain welcomes over 30 million overseas visitors each year, all accommodated by the 35 international airports and numerous other transport links.

As hosts of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, London has already started building a new Olympic park and accompanying green space, and plans to release 9.2 million tickets in 2011. Whether you plan to come for one of the existing world-class events, or to hold a world-class event of your own, theres sure to be a perfect spot for it in Britain.

Storytelling For Leaders – Ten Steps to Inspire Action

Do you remember watching the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing? It was compelling television – I found myself staying up later then I normally would to watch swimming, a sport that I typically wouldn’t have much interest in. NBC said that its broadcast, featuring Michael Phelps’s eighth gold medal win, was its most-viewed Saturday program in 18 years. From 11 to 11:30 p.m., when the Americans swam in their medal-winning medley relay, 39.9 million viewers were watching, according to Nielsen Media Research.

What keeps us engaged is the drama of the competition. A drama that is skillfully created by the media, through the use of stories that build a more personal connection to the athletes, and the athlete’s families. Beyond national pride, its the drama that make us care who wins and loses.

We don’t just watch Michael Phelps win gold medals, we see the emotion of his mother as she wills him on to victory. We hear about the hardships of being a single mother. His achievement is truly amazing but it is made more compelling and memorable by the stories that are told around the competition.

Why is this relevant to leadership?

Because skilled leaders also know how to use drama or stories to connect with people in the same way. If you want an employee or colleague to change a behavior you need to do more then just instruct them to act differently. Telling them just doesn’t work. Even logical persuasive arguments that clarify the benefits are often not enough.

Personal stories capture attention in a way that instructions, or logical arguments, do not. People relate to stories at an emotional level, lowering their resistance and connecting with the storyteller.

The top ten tips below will help you build storytelling into your leadership repertoire, to inspire others to action.

1. Engage your audience. To influence your audience you need to demonstrate that you understand their concerns and interests, while giving them reason to listen to you. One way of capturing their attention is to begin with a provocative question. Provocative, because the topic is of real interest to them and the answer is not obvious.

2. Use a story early. A story will have maximum impact at the beginning of your message. A good story builds connections with your audience at an emotional level, allowing you to engage their hearts as well as their minds.

3. Keep a log of stories. Your life experiences provide a rich tapestry of stories. Everyone has the right stories, but you need to capture them and use them. Keep a written log of experiences that created “aha” moments for you, either your own, or the experiences of others. Refer back to your notes when you are planning your next presentation.

4. Select a story for each audience. Pick a topic that your audience can identify with and is of interest to them. ie don’t use a baseball story with a group of European business women. The ideal story should capture a struggle or predicament that parallels the situation that your audience faces. Remember your goal is to get them thinking and collaborating with you.

5. Be specific but don’t ramble. Provide just enough detail to engage your listener. Details make a story interesting and allow a person to relate to what you are saying. Too much detail can cause a person to tune out.

6. Be authentic. You need to be believable. The real world is messy and unpredictable and people will learn as much from adversity and failure, potentially even more from failure then success. Don’t restrict yourself to stories with happy endings. The truth is better than a made up story that makes your point but sounds canned and artificial.

7. Deliver your message with emotion. Deliver your message with candor. Revealing your own emotion will help build connections with others. Emotion is conveyed through your words but also with gestures, expressions and in the pitch, volume, tone and speed of your words. Think about your presentation style as well as the content of your message.

8. Engage all the senses. People think and learn differently. Some people will benefit from you painting a picture with the words or diagrams. Others can learn by listening to someone talk or by reading. Some need to experience a practical demonstration of the concept.

9. Use visual aids with care. Often people rely on a slide deck of small font text to tell their story. While visual aids do focus attention, use them sparingly. Less is more when it comes to PowerPoint slides. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words.

10. Practice and test your stories. Storytelling is a skill that takes time to develop. Practice, practice, practice. Make sure you test your story on a friendly crowd before you take it out for prime-time coverage.