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You Are Competing Against Apple (And May Not Even Know It!)

Whether you are in a consumer business or B2B, the quality of your customer service experience with your company is key to generating loyalty and referrals. Many businesses believe that they are good at customer service, but that level of good may not be good enough.

To many customers, their expectation of good service is based on the best service they have received from anywhere. For example, if they have an iphone, they have Apple’s level of customer service in mind as a standard when they deal with you, too. Therefore, even if you are in a totally unrelated industry to Apple’s, customers’ expectations are high because they are not just based on your company’s service quality or even on your industry standards, they are comparing your service with a global expectation of the best experience they received anywhere. Relative to Apple, this means that they want easy access to your “geniuses”, a relatively quick fix or at least quick attention to the issue, and a smiling personality to handle everything.

Achieving this, may be less difficult than it sounds. It starts with refocusing your perspective away from your own standard to the broader one. Explore service you receive from every company and take note of especially outstanding experiences.

Ultimately great customer service starts with leadership setting the tone at the top. Leadership must set an example of quality and not waver from setting a high bar. Leadership then must support their customer service initiative by training everyone in techniques and expectations, as well as giving people authority to solve problems for peak customer satisfaction, reminding them that they are competing against Apple every day.

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7 Qualities That Turns Bosses Into Leaders

Employees work for bosses

Employees follow leaders.

Under a boss, most people will do their job until it’s completed.  Under a leader, people develop a passionate commitment towards work, often motivating them to do more than the job if it means it can help the team achieve the leader’s vision. Organizations are dramatically more satisfied and more productive when they follow a leader rather than work for a boss.

What are some key qualities that leaders have that bosses don’t?

– COMMUNICATES a clear vision of goals together with each  employee’s role and benefit from making it happen.

– CONFIDENCE in a successful outcome for his/her plan.

– TEAM BUILDER in adding competent people who have the skills for achieving the vision and enhance the organizational culture.

– RESPECT for the team, both for the people and ideas.

– FAIRNESS without double standards.

– RESPONSIBILITY is taken for his/her decisions no matter their outcome.   The team feels that the leader always has their back.

– THANK YOUs are given generously.


Stan Silverman is the founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership. He is a writer and speaker, advising C-suite executives about issues and on cultivating a leadership culture within their organizations. Stan is Vice Chairman of the Board of Drexel University and a director of Friends Select School and Faith in the Future. He is the former President and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com. Website: www.SilvermanLeadership.com

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7 Tips On Bringing New Executives Into Your Leadership Culture

Most companies have an orientation training program for new executives joining the team. Unfortunately, many programs do not include much, if any, orientation pertaining to the company’s Leadership Culture. Unless the new executive understands and embraces the Leadership Culture, it is unlikely they will be able to maximize his or her effectiveness at your company. Below are seven recommendations for introducing new executives to your Leadership Culture:

1) If you haven’t already done so, define your Leadership Culture and make sure your current leadership team knows it, can articulate it, supports it and is living it.

2) Communicate about your Leadership Culture with your HR team, so they identify candidates, in the first place, who are most likely to embrace your distinctive management environment and Leadership Culture.

3) At the time of the interview, ask executive level job candidates about the tone at the top they embrace and institutional culture they prefer to work in, as well as the culture they will establish within the organization they will lead. Also ask them about their leadership and management style, to assess whether they are a good fit.

4) Communicate your Leadership Culture to the new executive, and reinforce it at orientation and during the early days of employment.

5) Request feedback from the new executive to ensure that he/she understands and is comfortable with the Leadership Culture.

6) Also, during the interview process, invite other members of your team to discuss your Leadership Culture with the candidate so that he/she hears about it from others and understands its high priority at your organization.

7) Follow up in about 2-3 months after employment, to discuss with the new executive how he/she is succeeding within that Culture. Obtain informal feedback from the organization on how the new executive is doing.

Leadership Culture begins at the top. It is critical that every executive makes it a priority by living it and inspiring others.


Stan Silverman is the founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership. He is a writer and speaker, advising C-suite executives about issues and on cultivating a leadership culture within their organizations. Stan is Vice Chairman of the Board of Drexel University and a director of Friends Select School and Faith in the Future. He is the former President and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com. Website: www.SilvermanLeadership.com

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How To Grow Philadelphia’s Economy By Revitalizing Manufacturing

Article originally published in Philly Biz in the September 2015 issue.

At one time, Philadelphia was the world leader in manufacturing. Since World War II, that dominance has diminished to the point where today, manufacturing makes up only about five percent of the region’s economy. According to a Brookings Institute study that ranks the 300 largest metropolitan areas by GDP per capita and job growth, the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area ranks 250th out of 300 and is one of 60 in that group that has been experiencing negative growth.

The Philadelphia economy of today is largely based on sectors such as education, healthcare and government, the so-called “eds, meds and feds” triumvirate. In recent years, these sectors have experienced flat or slow growth and face limited growth potential in the immediate future. Therefore, the questions must be asked: Can revitalizing a fourth sector, manufacturing, grow the region’s economy? What would it take to stimulate the growth of manufacturing in Philadelphia?

The answer to the first question is obviously “yes”; revitalizing the manufacturing sector would grow the economy because at five percent, this sector is still significant and offers the potential to become the economic engine that drives growth in other sectors. For example, growth in manufacturing would also grow jobs, real estate values, tax revenues to regional governments and many other benefits.

The answer to the second question about what it would take to revitalize manufacturing, is a bit more complex. To revitalize manufacturing requires focus, priority and commitment from a number of diverse groups. They will need to take a “long view” and weigh the potential benefits they can bring to their individual groups, to the region at large and to future generations. We believe that all groups will reap significant benefits from revitalizing manufacturing.

A key reason for making a manufacturing revitalization argument is that Philadelphia already has at hand many assets which can support the revitalization of manufacturing. These assets just need to be focused on achieving the goal of revitalization.

The Philadelphia region is located in the middle of the northeast market of the U.S. and is within a few hundred miles of about 50 million people, nearly 20% of the U.S. population. Philadelphia is a port city with access to U.S. and world markets. The city has a highly developed rail and highway system for moving raw materials and finished goods. The close proximity of Marcellus Shale natural gas and other energy resources gives Philadelphia additional unique features compared to other regions. The city also has an above average educated population and features the second highest number of institutions of higher education in the nation. Access to capital is also an advantage in that some of the largest financial institutions in the world are located within 100 miles of Philadelphia. In many respects, revitalization of manufacturing is the “low hanging fruit” of options available which can put our region on a growth track.

With Philadelphia’s unique advantages, what needs to happen to grow manufacturing? It is interesting to note that benchmarking those American cities that are most successful in growing their manufacturing sectors may not actually be that instructive, in that much of their growth comes from the auto industry growing in or relocating to those regions. Instead, we recommend looking within our region at some of the successful or potentially successful manufacturers and/or categories that are currently performing well here. These include larger manufacturers, such as those involved in energy production, as well as some of the smaller manufacturing industries, such as craft brewing, medical device manufacturing and others. How can make them even more successful and also stimulate the growth of additional manufacturing this area?

Ultimately, we believe stimulating growth in manufacturing is a leadership issue. The catalyst is the point when leadership concerns itself both in generating today’s results while also leaving a lasting legacy of accomplishment. To achieve this, our diverse group of leaders will need to cultivate a leadership culture such that their diversity of skills and experience will blend together behind this singular initiative. A leadership culture is an environment where leaders feel empowered and individually responsible for their activities, while also working together for the success of a larger goal or vision.

Such diverse segments as finance, unions, media, energy, government and others must decide to be committed to revitalizing growth in manufacturing as a top priority and then work within each of their areas to make it happen.
To accomplish this, leaders will need to redirect their outlook. Instead of competing to get a bigger share of the pie, leaders must work together to make the pie larger. These diverse groups must create synergies that will enable the Philadelphia region to compete and win in the world.

Ultimately, leadership must view revitalizing manufacturing as a legacy initiative. What kind of an economy and community will they grow for the future resulting from their actions today? Our region’s leadership has the power to own this opportunity and to nurture the revitalization of manufacturing to build a stronger economic base that will enhance the lives of our generations to come.

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Stan Silverman is a writer, speaker and advisor on effective leadership. He is the Leadership Catalyst at Tier 1 Group, a firm of strategists and advisors for preeminent growth. Silverman is vice chairman of the board of Drexel University, a director of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and former president and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com. Website: www.SilvermanLeadership.com

Leo Levinson is CEO of GroupLevinson Public Relations. He is a writer, speaker and marketing and brand strategist. Follow: @leoadman, Connect: Leo@grouplevinson.com Website: GroupLevinson.com

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Cultivating A Culture Of Collaboration Must Be A Leadership Priority Or It Will Cost You

Within an organization, self-authorized expansions of authority and/or defending against encroachment are leading causes of inefficiency, waste of resources and loss of profits in organizations. It is our guess that as much as 20% of people’s, department’s and division’s time and resources are wasted engaging in the politics of limits – offense and defense. Our theory is subjective, but based on decades of experience. Turf issues are also a prime catalyst causing diminished morale leading to lowered productivity.

They happen at every level – from not providing expertise to an area that needs it, to two division heads building two warehouses where one will do.

The solution to this is leadership. It is our belief that one of the top priorities of leadership, from the top down, should be to cultivate a culture of collaboration.

The stakeholders of your organization really don’t care that the results by departments are optimized. They only care that the results of the whole organization are optimized. A culture of collaboration is the way to achieve this, and leaders within the organization should be rewarded for collaboration, and penalized if they do not collaborate.


Stanley W. Silverman is a writer, speaker and advisor on effective leadership. He is the Leadership Catalyst at Tier 1 Group, a firm of strategists and advisors for preeminent growth. Silverman is vice chairman of the board of Drexel University, a director of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and former president and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com. Website: www.SilvermanLeadership.com

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EuroDragons Day Six: Observations of a Basketball Enthusiast

CABOURG, France – The Drexel women’s basketball team spent nearly the entire day on Tuesday in the bus, heading from Ghent to Cabourg near the Normandy coast. Tomorrow morning, Drexel’s tour will visit the Normandy landing beaches and the American cemetary before heading towards Paris.

Today’s blog entry is contributed by Drexel Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees Stan Silverman, who has accompanied the team on this trip and was the guest coach for the Dragons’ first win of the tour at Binnenland:

In the locker room, all eyes are laser-focused on Drexel head coachDenise Dillon, her players listening intently as she delivers her pre-game speech. It is Aug. 21, and the Drexel women’s basketball team is about to play its first international exhibition game against Binnenland Rotterdam, a team from outside of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 
 

With three freshmen who are about to play in their first college game as Drexel Dragons, there is an atmosphere of excitement in the room and perhaps some jitters. These young women, who have been star players on their high school teams, have been anticipating this moment for years – their debut playing on a college team.

Coach Dillon, along with her staff Amy Mallon,Stacy McCullough, Michelle Baker and Taylor Wootton, lead the team in prayer before heading out onto the court. This moment reminds me of the Notre Dame locker room prayer scene from the film “Rudy” just prior the season’s final game. You could feel the power of unity and cohesion in the room and the extraordinary feeling of being part of a team about to do battle with their opponent.

I was invited to serve as honorary assistant coach for this game, with the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes view of how Dillon and her coaching staff interact with their players at game time. I am grateful to assistant coach Baker and director of operations Wootton for providing guidance during the game, which enhanced my experience. My goal is to provide encouragement to the players, observe and stay out of the way.

I watch the veterans of past seasons provide encouragement and guidance to the freshmen on the team. I watch Dillon and her assistant coaches shout instructions to the players on the court. During halftime, Dillon shares her observations on the first half – what is going right and what can be improved on during play in the second half.

At the end of the first quarter, the Dragons are down by one and at the end of the first half, up by 12. As the game progresses, it is very apparent that the Dragons hit their stride, winning the game 77 to 49.

I have watched the Dragons play over the years, and this team looks very strong. Pass pass pass shoot. This is coach Dillon’s style of play. A great start to what will be a great season.

As I watch this team play their first game, I wonder who will emerge as leaders as the season progresses. Athletics is a great way to develop leadership and team skills – skills invaluable in later life. What an extraordinary opportunity these young women have.

GO DRAGONS!

Stan Silverman is a writer, speaker and advisor on effective leadership. He is the Leadership Catalyst at Tier 1 Group, a firm of strategists and advisors for preeminent growth. Silverman is vice chairman of the board of Drexel University, a director of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and former president and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com. Website: www.SilvermanLeadership.com

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Strengthening Your Leadership Culture While Delivering Feedback For Improvement

As a leader, one will occasionally have the need to deliver feedback that is critical of a team member or even the entire team. In doing so, two outcomes are most likely. One outcome has the capacity to hurt morale for the entire team. The other actually builds on the message and strengthens both the team member’s contribution to the entire team as well as the overall result from the team itself. Although criticism is negative, conveying its message properly should become a positive experience in an effective leadership culture.

As the leader, you are also the team’s coach. Ultimately leaders and coaches want to build up their teams. They do not want to browbeat them and create an angry, finger-pointing environment. Their hope is to change behavior in a positive way that enhances how the individual contributes to the success of the team in the future. When a weak link gets stronger, it strengthens the entire team.

For best results, it is of paramount importance to understand how an associate or team will hear your feedback. Look at it through their eyes. Therefore, what language and tone might you use to turn this into a positive coaching experience. Recognize that the person in question most probably feels as if they are trying as hard as they can, even though they are less effective than they should be. They may even feel, rightly or wrongly so, that other factors have contributed to the experience.

Here are some valuable tips for delivering feedback:

– Be unemotional when you deliver negative feedback. If you are emotional, take time to collect yourself and then deliver the message.

– If possible, confront the person in private where it’s just one-on-one. Never cast blame publicly.

– Keep the feedback focused on the specific act in question. Rarely use terms like “you never do this” or “you always do that” which tend to generalize or trivialize your message.

– If the entire team needs to hear the feedback, cast the blame publicly but in a way that is broader so everyone shares in the negative message, as well as the positive solution. Together, discuss how to improve and get everyone ultimately to own the solution.

– Before criticizing, try to gather as much information as possible from the person in question. In other words, get them talking about what happened and why they made the decision they did. They may have made the wrong decision, but they might also have been right (and you might learn something!), under the circumstances.

– Without casting blame publicly, turn the experience into a training exercise so that everyone can learn from the feedback.

True, there are times when negative feedback must be personal, especially when there is the need to coach individual improvement – anything from poor listening skills, a lapse in manners, speaking loudly and more. But most of the time, one person’s error or misjudgment can actually serve as an opportunity for a positive, teachable moment that can help everyone feel good about themselves and their contribution towards helping the team move forward.


Stan Silverman is a writer, speaker and advisor on effective leadership. He is the Leadership Catalyst at Tier 1 Group, a firm of strategists and advisors for preeminent growth. Silverman is vice chairman of the board of Drexel University, a director of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and former president and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com. Website: www.SilvermanLeadership.com

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In Selecting Your Next Leaders, Here Are 4 Things More Important Than A Great Resume

Perhaps the most important thing every leader must do is to select and prepare his or her successor, or at least to create a leadership culture where budding leaders have the best opportunity to flourish.

However, even in a thriving leadership culture, sometimes it becomes necessary to look outside the organization for its next leader. When that is the case, often the board and its search firm scour resumes to find that one person with a blue chip line of experience together with a storied body of successful experience in just those areas most important to the organization. But don’t stop there. Although experience and expertise are important, we believe there are four characteristics that are even more valuable:

Honesty – a natural inclination to do the honest thing, in both positive and negative situations.

A Listener – someone who automatically listens first and even has the skill to draw out the positions of others in the organization before voicing his/her own.

Optimism – not a Pollyanna, but a person who approaches life from a positive perspective and reflects a positive outlook and environment.

Respect – for people and their ideas, no matter what their status is.

For best results, create your short list based on resumes and then make your final selection based on these 4 qualities.


Stan Silverman is a writer, speaker and advisor on effective leadership. He is the Leadership Catalyst at Tier 1 Group, a firm of strategists and advisors for preeminent growth. Silverman is vice chairman of the board of Drexel University, a director of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and former president and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com. Website: www.SilvermanLeadership.com

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As A Leader, Are You Communicating Your Expectations To Your Employees?

Years ago, as the new CEO of my company, I set out to tour our divisions once our business strategy and plan had been finalized. I wanted to present it so everyone would be on the same page. After a presentation to one division in particular, I had an opportunity to sit down with their divisional management team to chat.

After a number of their questions relating to where I saw product growth from their division together with an appeal for the allocation of capital resources to support that growth, it soon became apparent that there was a major disconnect here. This division’s product line was in a highly mature category where cash generation from them was our corporate goal and it was critical to supplying capital to other high growth areas of the company. Once I explained that to them, they actually seemed relieved – they knew what was expected of them. I pointed out the change in tenor of our conversation to which they remarked, “no one had ever taken the time to explain their place in the business plan.” “We were stressing over growth when the company just needed us to provide as much cash as possible.” Once they understood their assigned mission and the role they played, they could focus on their part in making it a success.

Don’t make your employees guess what their role is and what your expectations are of them when communicating the company’s plan. To maximize results as a leader, everyone must understand their roles. To accomplish this:

1) take time to present your big picture plan directly

2) clarify everyone’s role in achieving the plan

3) reinforce their worth and value in achieving organizational success.

This will help create a sense of ownership in your employees, and increase the probability of achieving the plan.

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4 Powerful New Year’s Resolutions For Leaders

As the calendar flips to 2015, many people will be making New Year’s resolutions. Many of their goals will be personal, some will be professional, but regardless of their nature, creating goals is often an innate characteristic of an effective leader. Here are four suggestions for New Year’s resolutions to better create and maintain an effective leadership culture at your organization:

1. Become a better listener. Resolve to listen to new ideas and approach every suggestion with an unbiased and open mind. Your employees and peers will appreciate it, and it will make everyone better at their jobs.

2. Respect! They say that respect is not given, but earned. Have you earned the respect of your employees through effective leadership? Perhaps. But just as importantly, have your employees earned your respect through hard work, smart ideas and great initiative? If so, and you haven’t communicated it, the new year is a great time to start.

3. Re-evaluate. Are you rubber-stamping another similar plan for 2015 or will you try some things that are new? For most organizations, complacency can be a death sentence. Have confidence in testing some new things, even if some might fail. Especially if things are going well, don’t be content to sit back because business is fickle and things can change at any moment.

4. Stick to your principles. Even as effective leaders maintain an open and honest dialogue about the goals of their organization, it’s crucial that these goals happen through the prism of your own—and by extension, the organization’s—core values. When was the last time you thought about your core values? If it’s been a while, re-establish them. Employees appreciate and can rally around a leader and an organization with a strongly communicated mission and goal.


Stan Silverman is a writer, speaker and advisor on effective leadership. He is the Leadership Catalyst at Tier 1 Group, a firm of strategists and advisors for preeminent growth. Silverman is vice chairman of the board of Drexel University, a director of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and former president and CEO of PQ Corporation. Follow: @StanSilverman. Connect: Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com. Website: www.SilvermanLeadership.com

When An Employee Violates Company Policy For The Right Reasons

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on October 2, 2014

My column in the Philadelphia Business Journal this week emphasizes why great leaders hire people with good critical judgment and that while company policies are inherently a positive thing, great leadership means knowing when to react situationally to their violation.