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How to Start Writing a Book


I’ve published over a thousand books in my career and have worked with a variety of interesting authors worldwide. Their backgrounds range from university professors and bank CEO’s to Olympic athletes and technology executives.

Because writing is an art, it is easy to get stuck in the process. I’ve seen many authors become paralyzed by their own over-analysis of their topic. Others will research so meticulously that they never seem to make any progress. Many authors will take 12 months or more to write a book. Some take several years to come up with a complete first draft of their manuscript. Others simply don’t finish at all.

The key to completion is harnessing the power of momentum. While each author has a unique process for completing a book manuscript, there are dozens of different methods for writing books. In response to this thorny issue, I’ve discovered a system that will cut that time down to a few weeks.

Let’s explore a couple methods.

We’ll start with the ”straight A student” when it comes to writing a book so that you can see the best-case scenario. This writer is Chris Widener, and he is a professional speaker. Besides writing a New York Times bestselling book, he is the fastest writer I know. After he conceived his book over a couple of months, he sat down at his local Starbucks for 12-days straight and wrote a 35,000-word manuscript. Most mere mortal authors have a different experience. Let’s look at a few more examples.

Many authors start their book projects by taking time off of their “day job”, or taking a sabbatical. The most common methods people use to write a book is to step away from their everyday life for 6 to 12 months, and then go off somewhere interesting and write. On average, this approach takes about a year.

Another way that’s quite common, especially with non-fiction books written by hyper busy executives, is taking a few months to draft the essence of the material, creating a cogent outline, and coming up with stories to support each point. Once this outline is in place, they hire a professional writer to do the heavy lifting of crafting the body of the book. A good ghostwriter will take the author’s ideas and concepts, then translate them into the written word, expressing the material in a style that meshes with the author’s voice.

Ghostwriting is an excellent option for authors who are clear about what they would like to say but haven’t yet honed the craft of composition. It’s an efficient way to work, and it’s completely legit. As long as the ghostwriter and the author of record speak the same language, this can produce some highly successful results.

However there is a downside to this tactic. The reason many authors want to hire a ghostwriter in the first place is that they have difficulty expressing themselves. This can make for muddled communication and imperfect results. If you choose to hire a ghostwriter, you will need to be clear about your content and your objective.

The final method for writing a book is a system we use at Made for Success Publishing called Book in a Weekend. It’s a high-velocity, time-compressed system for writing books inspired by agile product development methods. This is great for the author who may want to write a book themselves, or come up with an outline they can hand off to a ghostwriter to do the writing for them. This is the most effective method for setting up the writing project and producing a time-compressed outline of a book in a weekend.

The most important aspect of writing is to get the project started. Once you have started the writing process, it’s easier to gain momentum and complete the manuscript. It is essential to work from a detailed outline of the book, much like a Table of Contents. This helps you organize your writing and stay on track.

What we do with this Book in a Weekend process is fairly intuitive, but it’s easy to put off completion. We work with the author to break the book down into a series of small chunks. By chunks, I’m talking about chunks of writing, so each part of the book gets broken down into 800-word sections. Now, you’ve got a plan for writing each 800-word piece.

These sections of writing can be thought of in the same way you might think of writing an article or an email. In my line of work, I type a lot of emails. A really long email is usually about 800 words. If I’m writing a short email, it might be 50 to 100 words. By breaking the project down, the author might think of each section as a series of long emails.

Most people can sit down for an hour or so, write a long email and overcome any typical distractions. Carving out an hour to write is a fairly achievable goal. If the author can string together those messages into the timeframe that we recommend, the book will develop naturally like clockwork – usually in just a couple of days.

The Book in a Weekend process entails following these 7 sequential steps. In fact, I use this exact method to write my own books.

1. Conceptualize your book by answering the question of “What’s the big picture of your writing?”

2. Identify your target audience.

3. Brainstorm title options for your book.

4. Gather and organize pertinent stories that can be used to make key points.

5. Build the Table of Contents with your key ideas.

6. Assign stories to each Chapter.

7. Assign how many words you plan to write for each Chapter.

When I wanted to create my first manuscript, I went on a retreat for a few days. I rented a hotel room on a mountain lake, removed all distractions and didn’t even answer my cell phone. It may sound like a dream vacation, but believe me – I was definitely in Work mode. I’d wake-up early to write as the sun came up, and then would reward myself at the end of the day with an early evening motorcycle ride around the lake.

I found that organizing my ideas using these steps really helped me overcome my natural tendency to procrastinate on the project. Ponying up the cash for the hotel room also helped give the project the gravitas is needed. By the end of my stay, I had an actionable manuscript, which I later published first as an ebook, then as a physical book and finally as an audiobook. Since then, that book has gone on to sell thousands of copies on autopilot.

With that, there’s only one question left to ask: what are your plans for the weekend?

Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.

Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.


icon1August 9, 2016

Falling In Love With Your Future

Is there a secret formula for Leadership? No, it’s not really a secret.

Being an exceptional Leader requires passion, commitment and intuitive vision. In a word, it takes heart.

If you have a passion for the thrill and independence of being a Leader, plus you have the commitment to follow through on that passion, here is a breakout formula that can take you wherever you want to go. Falling in love with your future is as simple as letting your heart lead the way.


Do-things-with-passion-or-not-at-all-Wherever-you-go-go-with-all-your-heartFirst you have to know where you’re going, so research is key. Find a successful cause or company similar to the one you envision leading. Study how it started and how it grew.

Next, learn all you can about the Leader behind it. Pick apart the Leadership style, and see if you can ferret out the steps or elements involved.

Devour books and publications related to your Leadership concept. Talk to other Leaders and ask them about their best practices.


A successful Leader is a bold visionary, seeing what others cannot. You have to be willing to follow that vision despite naysayers.

Many Leaders never finished college, but that hasn’t stopped them. Some visionaries started small companies that grew into large enterprises, such as Dell Computer. Other captains of industry chose to stay small, like your favorite neighborhood bistro or that consulting firm your friend owns in Kansas City.

Regardless of the size of their teams, they’ve all relied heavily on their vision – not necessarily on an MBA program.

Leaders handle ambiguity with ease and are fearless pacesetters. They get a thrill out of leading the way into unfamiliar territory and thumb their noses at the word “failure.”

Let other people manage the details for you, but keep a tight hold on your vision. You must be the guiding force that inspires your people to follow that vision. Shoulder the responsibility for the outcome, and hold yourself personally accountable. Let your passion for your cause show you the way. Focus on the big picture and trust others to focus on the details.

Strategy & Action

When you know where you’re going, the only thing missing is the strategy for getting you there combined with the courage to act. But this is no small thing. Jumping into Leadership without a strategic plan is like jumping in the ocean without knowing how to swim. You may reap unfortunate consequences and discover it all too late.

To create the strategic plan, picture your outcome exactly as you want it to be. Then write down your goals and objectives for achieving that vision. For each goal, create a strategy and a target date for achieving it. Begin with the end in mind, and work backwards until you reach the position you’re in today.

Assess your strengths. The odds are that you already possess the knowledge, skill and experience your team will draw upon. Now list all the strengths you can apply to reaching the object of your ambition.

Then appraise your challenges. Maybe they involve market penetration, profitability, expertise, competition or location. Challenges change as your objective changes. How will your challenges impact your goals?

Be willing to act. You can get things done by delegating, outsourcing or leveraging other people’s talents. Being a Leader means tapping untold reserves of innovation and unflagging determination. It means being willing to endure long, fast-moving days if you want to reap the rewards.

Get things done through delegation, and create a framework of people who can help you achieve your vision as a Leader. Even if your plan means working solo, you can benefit from accessing all kinds of talented consultants, vendors or subcontractors. Expect your framework to change as your vision grows, but build it only as big as you need it to be.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

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icon1March 16, 2015

Effective Leadership – the 7 C’s of Getting Result

Have you ever been cornered into buying something you didn’t really want? If you’re like most people, you’ve stocked your cupboards with more than your fair share of Girl Scout Cookies and other non-essentials sold door to door by smiling, big-eyed neighbor kids. It’s almost impossible to resist.

Good LeasdershipTime and again, people in cultures around the world have exhibited certain predictable responses to everyday situations. In fact, you see it everywhere. Because of these common reactions, it’s possible to predict behavior and influence people to adopt a specific point of view.

Unfortunately our common reactions make it possible for us to be manipulated by the unscrupulous – or simply the big-eyed cookie vendor. Politicians, salespeople, network marketers, entrepreneurs, colleagues, friends and family all have a stake in getting us to agree to their requests.

However, there is much to be mined here for the sake of effectiveness on the job.

If you find yourself in a Leadership role, you can gain from the gentle art of persuasion and take a cue from these common responses. You can apply the concept to Leadership for consistent results that look good on you – and your business. With the right approach, you can turn the tables and start getting the results you want.

Navigating the 7 C’s

There are 7 essentials for effective Leadership that you can apply to your projects or your organization starting today. They all happen to start with the letter “C”. In no particular order, here they are.

Care – Influence of any kind requires rapport. This means you have to care to some degree about the people you want to influence. What do you have to offer that will benefit them? What’s their greatest pain? What are their aspirations? Remember that people are most responsive to those who are interested in them and share common values.

The famous landmark book by Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People, can be summed up in two words: genuine interest. You can use your voice and body language to demonstrate your sincere enthusiasm, and make eye contact to get full engagement.

Communicate with Questions – Listen first. Communication is an interchange of information – a two-way street. Getting your message across depends on hearing and responding to the other person’s point of view. Learn from your interactions with them. Ask questions. Care about their responses, and express your expectations clearly.

Listening isn’t merely a matter of waiting for your turn to speak. Don’t wait quietly then jump in to tell your story. Make sure you ask questions and thoroughly understand their point of view. Be careful in your responses so your conversation doesn’t appear to be a verbal competition. Let it be cooperative.

Clarify – Not only do you want to get clear on your own your core values, but you also want to get clear on what people are communicating to you. A psychologist named Carl Rogers perfected a process called Reflective Listening back in the 50′s (click here for an overview on Wikipedia). When you ask clarifying questions, this will show up in your “music” – the things you say and the way you say them. When you’re clear on your own position, it’s much easier to persuade others to your point of view.

Consider – If the other person has a different perspective, find out more about why they have that point of view. The more you consider the reasons behind their thinking, the more you can understand them or perhaps help them to better understand your point of view. Weigh all sides of the question, and take the full picture into consideration.

Competence – Understand the details of the process that you and your team are pursuing. Enjoy at least a top line level of knowledge about the steps involved in completing your objective. When you do, it will be easier to understand the needs of the people you’re leading. Bringing in the project according to your objectives will be a breeze.

Consistency – Research shows that we have an in-born desire to be and to appear consistent. Once we’ve made a decision, we feel pressure to act consistently with that commitment. Once a commitment is made, we tend to table the topic and consider the matter settled.

Back in 1998, a Chicago restaurant was plagued with last minute reservation cancellations. But when they started asking customers for a commitment in the form of a question – “Will you please call if you have to change your plans?” – the no-show rate fell from 30% to 10%. To be effective as a Leader, ask your people if they will commit, and wait for their response. Require their consistency. Likewise, be consistent with your own commitments, and you’ll lead your people by example.

Completion – Personal accountability from yourself as well as your team will mean the difference between success and failure. Complete your objectives, and follow through. Don’t allow the agenda to change week by week.

Do you hold people individually responsible for meeting company objectives? When your people fail, as we all do from time to time, do you hold them responsible for sharing the benefit of their hard-won wisdom with the group? Have you created a culture that values personal accountability as a tool? Are you rewarding people for taking personal ownership for big-picture results?

To be an effective leader, it’s essential to stay in touch with the people you’re leading. It’s starts with caring about them and your mission. It takes involvement with them through the unfolding process and seeing it through to the end.

It means choosing activities and objectives that are worthwhile – appropriate for you, your values and dreams. Otherwise you might as well be selling non-essentials door-to-door. Those jobs are already filled by worthy, big-eyed 6-year-olds. You wouldn’t want to compete with the Girl Scouts, would you? No, of course not.

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icon1February 9, 2015

Leadership and Endurance: Staying Up When Things Look Down


Everyday the world is made fresh, and no two days are alike. No one stays the same from day to day, or even moment to moment, because each experience brings new opportunities and fresh perspective.

We touched on this lightly in a previous article, Effective Leadership: Igniting the Vision for Others. You can tap this concept and put it to work on your behalf.

Today is a whole new day. Today your spouse is different. Your coworkers and colleagues are, too. Your friends and companions are 24 hours older today than they were yesterday, bringing with them a world of new encounters. Because of this, the way they think today is different from yesterday, no matter how slight that difference is.

If you keep this in mind, it will cast a fresh light on your world and your way of thinking. You can get to know them all over again each time you connect.

Even you are different.

Your cells are renewed constantly. I’m told that there isn’t a cell in your body that’s older than 7 years, right now, no matter what your birth certificate says.

If you trim an eighth of an inch off your fingernails, that means you cut away one month’s worth of growth. Think of all the things your fingertips touched in the past month, all the experiences your fingernails had during that brief span of time. Has your mind grown as much?

And what about your enthusiasm?

Does your perspective need a little freshness dating? Every now and then it’s a good idea to check the contents of your head and throw out the ideas that are past their peak.

Without even being aware of it, a repetitive routine can let boredom creep in, stale yawns trudging on the heels of monotony. Before you know it, your enthusiasm has tanked and you’re not sure why.

The Hazards of Breaking New Ground

If you’re in a position of Leadership, the habit of stale thinking can spread like a deadly-dull virus through your team and the others around you. If you’re not careful, it can spread to your home life and your other relationships too. This can play havoc with your success, both personally and professionally.

Here’s a case where maintaining a fresh perspective aboard a sinking ship was literally a matter of life and death. There’s much to be mined from it on the topic of Leadership.

About a hundred years ago, a crew of 27 men (and 70 sled dogs) led by Ernest Shackleton sailed from South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic. Their intent was to land on the coast of Antarctica and trek across it shore to shore on foot, something no one else had done before. Unfortunately, they never even got to their destination.

The ocean between South America and Antarctica is notorious as a sailor’s graveyard, owing to high winds, deep swells and no small smattering of icebergs. Just six weeks after they began their voyage, the ship Endurance was lodged in an ice floe somewhere in the Weddell Sea. A few weeks later, it sank.

It took Shackleton and his crew some 18 months to return to South Georgia Island. During that time they camped on the ice, sailed across mountainous swells in little more than row boats, endured frostbite, hunger and desolation, never knowing if they’d see home again. But they persevered, and they did return.

It seems to me, if you were a crew member on the Endurance, you’d need a whole lot of enthusiasm for the taste of adventure. Just to get on the boat, you’d have to have a pretty tough inner game, a love of dogs, and a whole lot of gear.

You’d also need a very big idea about why the trip was necessary. There would be many chances to give up, all of them good ones.

The greatest threat to their successful return after the shipwreck was not so much the idea of quitting while they faced danger amid the storms and swells.

The greatest jeopardy to morale would have been the days on end of relative monotony – the cold, the gray, the unending sameness of their diet. There was no sound but their own voices, the wind, and the water lapping against the ice for the nearly 700 days of their journey.

The Rewards for Renewed Perspective

Surviving through this kind of ordeal takes a kind of camaraderie and a freshness of spirit that’s hard to find in this era or any other.

Every person on Shackleton’s team brought a set of skills essential for the mission. As a leader, Shackleton must have been keenly aware of this. Each one of the crew contributed a unique perspective to the group, along with the experiences gained during each whole new day. Together they persevered, and their survival itself was a triumph.

Whether you commute to work in an office, plow a field all day, or sit at home and knit, you are selecting the moments of your life and the thoughts that go along with them.

Now is a great time to give your enthusiasm a boost and see your surroundings through fresh eyes. Why not take time out for a little shift in perspective today?

You can give your doldrums the brush off while you trim your fingernails and think about where your fingers have been during the past month. If you find it dull, promise your hands that they’ll have a more stirring adventure to tell next time.

This article on Endurance and Enthusiasm is
part of our ongoing Leadership series.

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icon1January 26, 2015

Leadership and Ambition: Get Your Dream Into High Gear

What’s your greatest ambition? Do you know where the road of life is taking you? Do you know who’s taking the ride with you – those who share your ambitions?

Ambition fuels your goals, ignites the fire of life that kindles behind your eyes. It makes smoke curl from your nostrils as the restless engine of your desire is stoked when you contemplate your ultimate success. It torques your actions into high gear, and impels those around you to act with vigor on your behalf.

Chasing The Horizon

For many people, the idea of getting a great job and staying with the same company is their ambition. However, this scenario is largely becoming a thing of the past and having three or more careers in a lifetime is now the norm. This fact carries with it both an opportunity and a daunting responsibility to become clear on your own ambitions.

Don’t Arrive by Accident

It’s all too common to find that you’ve arrived on your current path through a series of coincidences, each one taking you a little farther away from the dreams you had when you first started. For most people, there is a huge gap between the results they get and the results they want.

Whether starting your own company or as an employee, more and more people are unsure of their ambitions. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s time to take time out, sit back and have a talk with yourself.

For example, some years ago I had a buddy who was confronted by just such a challenge. When we were both fresh out of college, we both went to work for Xerox selling office copiers.

Jeff and I had met years before in college, bonding over Top Raman and the love of fast cars. Jeff drove a Porsche and we took that car to every pizza joint near our campus (my college car was a classic VW Fastback, no match for the Porsche). We both shared a passion for starting our own business and becoming the next Henry Ford. Some things just don’t need to be explained.

After college, he had a successful career with Xerox followed by stints with other Fortune 500 companies like HP and Dell. He worked his way up into an executive position, in time making a pretty good salary with cushy corporate benefits. He was tied to his job with a velvet rope, plush but limiting.

Let me say here that Jeff did not aspire to be a corporate employee. For years, Jeff would talk with me about getting the nerve to “make the jump” and pursue a tech start-up.

Once you’ve been in corporate life for a while, you may feel locked into your job and your plush lifestyle, the way my friend did. Unless you get in touch with your true ambitions, your only options are to move sideways to another company or to move upward in the hierarchy of the company.

So what do you do? The answer is to finally ask yourself that most elusive question: what do you want to be doing five years from now? Ten? Twenty? What is your true ambition?

These are the questions my friend Jeff avoided asking himself for years, as the time slipped by and the rut got deeper. If your own answer isn’t “exactly what I’m doing now” then what you need is decisive action. Not tomorrow: today.

What my friend didn’t realize is that forging out a life’s ambition, or a major definite purpose, isn’t all that difficult. He was afraid of taking a momentary step back in his lifestyle for the sake of pursuing his longtime dream of starting his own company.

Eventually Jeff got his chance, seizing an opportunity to exercise his expertise in mobile technology.

Over time, he grew his idea into a steady business with the CTO’s of major cellular phone companies. He even has staff, inventory and a schedule of glamorous tradeshows he attends on an annual circuit. It’s a career he loves, but he never would have gotten there without making a change – the thing he dreaded the most.

If you can free yourself from the fear and pessimism that commonly confront change, you can free up enormous reserves of energy to fuel your dreams.

Getting Your Goals Into High Gear

In order for things to get better, things have to change. Even if your ambition lies a bit farther down the road you’re already on, progress means change. Anything else will mean stagnation.

Whatever your ambition is, the chances are that there’s an opportunity for your next step not far away from where you are right now. The key to your dreams lies somewhere in your immediate surroundings.

If your ambition really is something you’ve seriously wanted to do, then it should be as simple as getting started and getting noticed. It’s okay to start small. If your first steps don’t work out the way you’d hoped, don’t give up. Keep your ambition in sight, letting it always fuel the passion for your dreams.

Whether you succeed or fail, it’s always better to try. At least you won’t find yourself years from now asking those two most terrible words: “What if…?”

Living out your ambition is not as hard to do as you think, especially when your actions are powered by your true passions. So what are you waiting for? Drop it down a gear and hit the gas! You never know what’s waiting for you around the bend.

icon1January 19, 2015

Leadership and Logistics: Know What to Delegate and When

Hand Strategy Get Your Ducks In A Row

The saying goes that Management is doing things right, and Leadership is doing the right things. It sounds good on the surface – leaving the details up to the Managers while the Leaders lead. Or play golf.

But how can you be an effective Leader if you’re not aware of the logistics involved in your enterprise?

At some point – either on the way up in your career, or during on-going operations – you’ll need to understand the nuts and bolts of your project.

This essential makes the atmosphere ripe for getting a little too involved with logistics, leading to that dreaded syndrome known as “meddling.”

I know it’s not a pretty thought, but if folks are whispering about you as you walk by, it may be time to reassess and loosen your grip on your team.

Just as in that epic game involving 18 holes and a rambling lawn, business works best when you’re loose. It’s important to know when to let go your white-knuckle grasp and allow others to assume some responsibility. (Ask me how I know.)

Yes, as a matter of fact, this does include maintaining a sense of humor.

Loosening up will not only free up your time, it will help build the team rapport that’s so essential to your smooth-running operations. Once you get into the flow, you’ll be able to adapt your delegation style as the situation requires.

And the more you delegate, the easier it becomes. Actually, it can be downright addicting – leaving you more time to go home when the rest of your crew does, or even (dare I say it?) work on your golf swing.

Beware of the Sand Trap

Before you get too happy with the delegation idea, there is a caveat. When you give too much responsibility too soon, your team members can lose confidence in themselves, especially if they fall short of completing the tasks they’re given.

This means delegating big jobs should be a gradual process. The amount of responsibility you allocate as a Leader should increase only as your people grow in confidence and ability.

Here are some guidelines to help you bring your delegating skills up to par:

1. Climate: Think of your attitude about delegation within your team. Where do you fit in as a Leader? Keep in mind:

  • The culture within your team
  • Your Leadership style
  • Your own competence and confidence
  • Your physical location in relation to your staff
  • Your attitude about your staff’s delegation

2. Style: Consider the details of your current method of delegation practices. Are you using the most appropriate method you have available, considering your unique circumstances? If not, think about your alternatives, including the following factors:
  • Your team’s expertise and experience: Could they do with more guidance and supervision? Or should you be giving them more freedom to use their judgment and perform as they see fit?
  • Your team’s personal development: Are you doing enough to help them perform their jobs more effectively? Could you provide them with additional training that might broaden their skills or allow them to perform more effectively?
  • Letting go: Are you delegating enough to make efficient use of your own time? Do you sometimes find yourself holding onto tasks others could do? Letting go could free you up to spend time on strategy and other tasks that you alone are qualified to do.

3. Hone Your Strategy: Take time to write down some of your thoughts. Make a note of your delegation style, then note any ideas about what a more appropriate style could be.
  • What can you do to improve your delegation style?
  • What do you need in order to change?
  • What can you do to prepare your staff for that change?

4. Inner Game: Now spend some time analyzing what you have written. Write down three key action points which you will try to carry out in practice over the course of the next few months.

When delegating tasks, try to match tasks to the skills and potential of team members. Spend a few minutes thinking about their skills and areas where they might have a desire to develop, expressed or implied. These talents can be incorporated into your final action plan.

5. Approach: Be mindful of making team members’ jobs interesting and delegating logically.

Create an action plan to cover the aspects of delegation you’ve identified. The framework will differ depending on the number of tasks there are and how they’re allocated to your team.

Both you and your team members need to come together to share expectations for the project. Ultimately, you want to run a happy shop. Comparing your expectations will show where you are in agreement and where you need to come closer together.

Keep the Long Range In View

Before acting on your plan with your team, make the effort to agree on a deadline for completion of the tasks and a date and time for a review session.

This session will give you a chance to revisit the points you agreed on and ensure that everything is on track. If you meet before the deadline, you’ll have a chance to answer any questions or address any problems that arise in the course of the project.

When you and your team do meet the deadline, make sure you take some time to celebrate… say, at the 19th hole. In fact, setting this up could be the very first task you delegate.

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icon1January 12, 2015

Effective Leadership: Igniting the Vision for Others

I recently read an antique book on Time Management called How To Live on 24 Hours A Day. It was written by a man named Arnold Bennett at the dawn of what we now know as the Personal Development movement, way back in 1910.

Image of businesswoman looking in telescope standing atop of roc

You’d think a book written at that time would be full of outdated ideas and dull platitudes. That wasn’t the case. In fact, you’d probably find it surprisingly easy to read, relatable and uplifting. I was amazed by how little Western culture has changed in the 100+ years since Bennett penned this work.

Much of what he discusses in the book has to do with the mentally exhausted middle class, people who have time for little more than their daily commute and a 40-hour work week.

Without saying it in obvious terms, his topic is really about Self-Leadership.

Instead of giving in to the status quo, Bennett offers a more deliberate approach, one that infuses life with vitality. He takes aim at the creeping feeling that time is ebbing away, that life is slipping through your fingers day by day, and he offers a solution that’s so simple, few actually practice it. Then as now, the simplest solutions often had trouble gaining credibility.

Besides Self-Leadership, I believe these ideas can and should be applied to leading a team. Infusing life with passion, crafting a vision and keeping the vision aloft for others can mean the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary, both in business and life.

Why Leadership Requires Going On A “Time Diet”

Bennett suggests that by investing small amounts of time on a regular basis in a goal or topic that deeply fascinates you, every part of your life will change. Your senses will become heightened, and you’ll bring a new intensity to everything you do.

For my part, I agree with him, and many of my own activities reflect this habit. Besides running my own publishing company and a thriving consultancy, my work as a published author keeps me hopping from event to event. I also have plenty of outside interests and an active social life. By staying fully engaged, I feel truly alive in everything I do.

I was surprised to find that back in 1910, Bennett touched on this same point in his book. He goes on to say that each of us is given a whole new bank of time each day to use as we please. No one can steal it from us, and our “purse” of time is refilled continually.

For me, this reinforces the need to set goals and to employ some kind of structure in my schedule, what I call a time diet. Each of us has the option – in fact, the obligation – to deliberately choose how we spend our time and not waste it. This kind of focused effort speaks to the essence of Leadership.

It’s common knowledge that the wise ones shepherd their money, investing it instead of spending it, shrewdly calculating their next move, always keeping the end goal in mind.

And so it with time. The wise ones plan carefully, cultivate a vision, and work meticulously to reach the worthy goal. If you try to distract someone who is bent on an ambition, you’ll have a hard even getting their attention. Their major definite purpose obscures just about everything else.

What I love about this is the sense of freshness and renewal it brings. The start of the New Year particularly is perfect for reviewing the successes of the past year – and those unfortunate “oops” moments, the ones we so lovingly call “opportunities for improvement.” We’ve got a fresh calendar to work with, a clean slate without a blemish on it. It’s an excellent time to set goals and schedule tasks to achieve them. It’s an excellent time to corral others and recruit them to share your vision.

The Essence of Leadership

If you find yourself in a position of Leadership, you might be facing the New Year with a little extra weight on your shoulders. Not only do you have a glorious opportunity to shape the course of the coming year for yourself at home and at work, but you may have the chance to inspire others.

Many believe that leaders are born and not made. True, it’s useful to be born with certain qualities that give you a head start. However most of the traits of a good leader are learned.

In upcoming articles, we’ll be discussing the qualities of Leadership. We’ll take a look at the essence of Leadership, creating an inspiring vision, and ways you can communicate that vision to your team effectively.

Ironically, the word Leadership can be used as a Mnemonic device, touching on the elements of Leadership itself.

L – Logistics
E – Enthusiasm
A – Ambition
D – Drive
E – Effectiveness
R – Respect
S – Sensitivity
H – Humour
I – Integrity
P – Passion

In real life applications, your own approach to Leadership will need to be tailored and modified to fit your situation. Ultimately it starts with you and your determination to invest time in yourself – in those things that make you feel vitally alive.

Once you begin to fully engage, the ripple effect will touch the lives and deeds of those around you and those you are leading. You can influence them and perhaps even inspire a new generation of leaders.

Leaving a 100+ year legacy is surely a worthy goal, and in this case it was achieved by Arnold Bennett, author. Hats off to you, Mr. Bennett; your time was well spent.

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icon1January 5, 2015