Sunday, 31 May 2009

Lewenza and Mayor Eddie Exchange Pleasantries

You're not officially the Mayor of Windsor until the head of the CAW tellls you to "F-off!" That happened just last week to Mayor Eddie Francis, who promptly showed Ken Lewenza the door.

Relax Eddie. That was just Kenny-speak for "I'm here to broker a deal in the 7-week strike between CUPE workers and the city, and I take you very seriously."

It's simple. When Ken Lewenza tells you to "f-off", you return the greeting, hug it out, get down to business and go for a beer together after you get it all worked out.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

You're Fired

You know, there’s something to be said for the way Donald Trump does it on the Apprentice every week. 

A team messes up and comes in second place.  The leader is asked to account for what happened.  If the leader can’t make a great case for why their subordinate is to blame in spite of development, direction and delegation, then logically the leader is to blame.  

The failure may be due to a lack of development – the subordinate isn’t ready for responsibility.  It may be due to lack of direction or relevant supervision or follow up – the subordinate doesn’t know the plan or doesn't know he doesn't know.  In the worst case, it may be due to a lack of delegation – the micromanager who just can’t let go.  Or too much delegation too soon - the macromanager who needs to get a grip.

In real life and beyond extenuating circumstances you get a second chance and a third chance.  However, if a pattern of failure is evident, sooner rather than later somebody needs to hear the words “you’re fired”.  The leader, after exhausting all reasonable options, either says it or hears it. 

It’s not personal, it’s just business.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Legendary Leadership

Behind the leader's back there is a culture he or she has created and the stories are told and retold of things he's said, things she's done. No amount of coaxing, cajoling, threatening or bribing on the boss's part could ever get those stories told to his or her face.  If you're the boss, you'll never really know what people are saying about you when you're not around.

If you have been an amazing leader, like a lady I once reported to, the legends speak of compassion, vision, determination and fairness.

Sometimes the stories are not so kind. You might be surprised which of your behaviours your subordinates least respect.  You might be surprised to learn what they notice, which of your behaviours they model and which they wouldn't touch if you paid them.

It seems to me that one way to succeed in leadership of people or to be a sales or service leader might be to ask yourself what kind of stories you want told behind your back, and then govern your behaviour to fashion the tale.

Do you want to be known for your integrity and loyalty?   Want your team to be people with a good balance of priorities?    Want truth and conviction in the workplace, a commitment to excellence and top-of-mind customer awareness?  Do you want your company to succeed?  

Be the servant leader who demonstrates daily what the company values really mean.  Have lunch in the company cafeteria and fly coach.  Be loyal to your spouse and to your family.  Go home when the job is done, turn off the Blackberry and spend some time with your family and friends.  Volunteer in the community with a cause you really care about, not necessarily the glamorous cause-du-jour.  Skip the galas and the fundraisers and roll up your sleeves even when the cameras aren't present.

We notice.  We'll follow you anywhere.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

South St. Burger Co.

Still on the quest for the world's best burger... (as if that's my place to say)

I have eaten at South Street Burger Co. probably 8 times in the last two years as I continue to seek my favourite burger. This one has a lot going for it, which is why I keep coming back. It's really good, but what stops me from declaring it my favourite?

1. If I did, I'd have to take up a new hobby.
2. And, there's room for improvement. But that's just my opinion - you should check it out yourself; you won't be sorry you did.

I really want South St. to be the most amazing burger experience ever. It has a lot going for it, probably because of the drive and business savvy of Jay Gould of New York Fries fame. The burger is fresh and free from all fillers, antibiotics and other stuff. There are no heat lamps. The 1/3 pound burger is served on your choice of toasted white or whole wheat bun. The topping choice is simple, but it is your choice. Everything is made right in front of you, pretty quickly. They have a cool combo set-up - just choose a burger, fries and a beverage and they'll take a buck off the cumulative total and call it a combo.

Good: The burger itself, the toppings, the fresh bun. It's just fine, but not memorable. I wonder if it is deliberate that it's not seasoned in any way I can taste. If so, I think that might be a mistake. The right seasoning could set this experience apart.

Great: The fries of course. You can't have a great burger without great fries, and New York fries come with this burger.

Room for Growth: A little more attitude. The decor is funky and secure with itself, the restaurant is spotless and the flow from cash register to assembly to presentation works just fine. But apart from the classic rock playing softly through overhead speakers, I can't find the "oomph" that makes this experience fun and different. I'm not suggesting they emulate Licks with all that singing and yelling, but they could turn up the tunes and have some interaction with the patrons other than the topping conversation. Don't get me wrong, the staff are friendly and polite, but not outgoing. If they're allowed to smile most of them haven't gotten the memo.

Would I come back? As it stands, South St. is an upscale Harvey's. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't think that was the goal. Yeah, I come back but I haven't recommended it. If South St. Burger Co. took it up several notches in the energy department, I'd bring friends and family with me next time and every time!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Fake Grass

The entrance to our city has long been an eyesore, and our Parks and Rec people have undertaken in the last few years to do something about it.

That's fake grass, and it's not going well with some residents of the city. I think it's a big improvement over what was there before.

A scene like this is what we're faced with everywhere else in the city since the outside workers walked off the job.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Milestones Dixon Road Toronto

I had the pleasure of dining at Milestones on Dixon Road in Toronto last week. I was in town for a quick trip with meetings out near the airport. I arrived hungry and looking for a decent meal.

Milestones is a step up from Kelsey’s, but not a big step. The meal was worth the money I paid, and the atmosphere was upscale roadhouse friendly. The greeting was friendly but not outgoing or conversational. She wasn’t a natural hostess, and a little effort could have taken it past a pleasant acknowledgment of my presence to a welcoming invitation to dinner.

Good – the steak and shrimp special was quite nice. It was cooked a little on the rarer side of medium-rare, but I’m just not that fussy. The shrimp was a bit of a disappointment. Six medium-small shelled shrimp broiled and placed on top of the steak. This would have been a real wow if it were two jumbo shrimp, tail on, grilled. Then again this is upscale roadhouse, not casual fine dining.

Great – friendly service from the bartender, efficient and pleasant. He knew his menu and suggested the special, which really helped him establish himself as knowledgeable committed to a great experience. Not to overstate the potential, but his enthusiastic recommendation of a good special got him the extra sale of a fantastic decaf Cappucino at the end of the meal. The higher the bill, the higher the tip.

Room to Grow? He didn’t know his wines. I asked for a recommendation with my meal and he brought in another server to make a suggestion – which was GREAT! The room to grow is that she didn’t tell me what she had selected, and I had to ask. The bartender could really take it up a notch by knowing his wines, suggesting a good one, telling me what he selected and why, and establishing himself as a trusted expert. Follow up with an invitation to come back next time I’m out by the airport and I’d definitely make a point of it.

Would I come back? Yes, the meal was good on two different visits to Milestones. Service was outstanding in London, average (with the potential for great) on this occasion.