Archive for March, 2008

“I Swear By Apollo”
Being Accountable to Yourself In Leadership
“I swear by Apollo”… so starts the Oath of Hippocrates, an oath of ethical, professional behavior sworn by all new physicians – a promise to practice good medicine to the best of their ability, for the good of their patients. It essentially boils down to a commitment to “do no harm”. Wouldn’t it be great to have such an oath for leaders – an oath of personal accountability, not just for business outcomes and for leading others, but for leading oneself. I am reminded of the proverb “Physician, heal thyself”, suggesting that one should take care of one’s own faults first before correcting the faults of others – so I add to the above: Leader, lead thyself.

Any nuts-and-bolts leadership primer will explain that one of the key leadership competencies is holding others accountable. This entails, among other things, setting clear expectations and guidelines, clearly communicating goals and objectives, following up to ensure fulfillment of responsibilities, providing feedback on performance, coaching those whose performance is not up to par and, finally, taking any necessary corrective action. But a leader cannot expect to hold others accountable successfully if they are not holding themselves accountable first.

While this is an important dimension of leadership, it is easy to slip, when it comes to accountability for our own behavior. This can happen even to leaders who do a great job at holding themselves accountable for the big ticket items such as driving for results, whether in sales, operations, marketing or financing, identifying root causes for business problems, developing a vision and strategy and managing resources effectively.

Let’s clarify something before we proceed: no leader worth his salt wakes up in the morning deciding that he or she is not going to be accountable today. No one wants to do a bad job. But things happen during the course of the day that can divert the best of us from our good intentions and more often than not, it is unintentional, personal “slips”. It is about these seemingly innocuous personal slips that I want to talk. They take many, subtle forms. Let’s explore a few of the garden-variety ones:

  • You have a chronic problem employee but you don’t make the tough decision to let the individual go, because you want to be a nice person. Instead, after much deliberation and agony, you decide to transfer the person to another department – essentially moving the problem to another part of the company and hoping it goes away. Deep down, your intuition is whispering to you that the problem has not been solved but, in your elation at having found the solution to a nagging problem, you hush your intuition. You come to the office the next day, with a spring in your step and a song in your heart – relieved at having shed a burden.

  • A senior member of your team has a habit of treating less influential ones very poorly in meetings, interrupting them, discounting their contributions and generally exhibiting poster-like bad behavior. It mortifies the recipients, embarrasses other team members and even bothers you. Again, though, because you value harmony and hate confrontation of any kind, you choose to ignore the offending behavior and hope that it will stop on its own. The fact that the perpetuator is an aggressive, high achiever, successfully delivering results, makes it even harder for you to step up and do something.

  • You have just announced the company’s drastic cost cutting measures and asked for everyone in your department to cooperate by eliminating all discretionary spending. You delivered a genuinely inspiring speech to your team and everyone is on board to make this work. Two days later, employees see a $1,000 chair delivered to your office – an earlier purchase you had genuinely forgotten to cancel. Others, of course, don’t judge us by our intentions – they only have the appearance of events to judge you by.

  • A mistake was made, the ownership of which falls on several shoulders including yours. Driven by the anxiety and chaos that ensues, you minimize your role in the fracas, and even unwittingly suffer from temporary corporate amnesia, forgetting that you were fully briefed in advance. You set out to find a scapegoat, genuinely convincing yourself that it is surely their fault. This can easily happen in times of stress because, as a leader, you handle dozens of issues on a daily basis. However, others involved only handle a few issues and remember the course of events with laser-like precision.

Well, the list can go on. Some slips are due to personality preferences, others just from the sheer amount of work and stress that leaders often experience. The reasons are multiple and really not important. It’s the behaviors that are important.

They are all examples of behaviors you would not condone in others when you set out to hold them accountable. And as we all know, when there is a disparity between what you tell others to do and what you do yourself, people will believe your actions and not your words. The fallout of this scenario is an erosion of trust, one of the high prices we pay for lack of self-accountability.

Let’s also not neglect to mention that, as a leader, you sometimes have to take unpopular decisions and this can, by itself, elicit criticism. You are always in a fishbowl.

So what strategies can you adopt to be more careful, to be self-accountable – essentially to report to yourself?

  1. Just as companies are rightfully concerned about how they are viewed by customers or shareholders, consider taking time to reflect on how your actions are viewed by all stakeholders: your direct reports, your peers, your clients. Go through a formal 360 Leadership Assessment process or simply get hold of a leadership assessment form and use it to reflect on how others in your team would rate you on each dimension.

    For example: Puts the interests of the team before own interests; Shares credit for successes; Readily shares relevant information; Asks how am I doing; Treats others with respect regardless of their position; Fosters teamwork across all departments; Stands behind decisions made by the team; Provides honest feedback in a timely basis. Would others respond in this way about you?

  2. At the end of each day, when you clear your desk before you head home, take a few short minutes to mentally go over your day. Think about significant conversations you held, meetings you attended, emails you sent and other actions you undertook.

    Are you proud? Could you have done better? This will inspire you to plan your next day around your highest purpose. Getting into this habit of introspection will pay dividends in the long run.

  3. Decide to hold yourself accountable for developing other leaders. By mentoring a protégé to enhance their personal and professional growth, you strengthen your own leadership skills and reinforce your determination to be self-accountable as you become the model.

  4. When something goes wrong, look inwardly for solutions. It is especially in difficult times that our self-accountability is challenged. Martin Luther King said it poignantly: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

  5. When a mistake is made, do you ask: “Whose fault is it?” or do you say: “What can we learn from this?” or “What can I do to improve this situation?”

    To that end, consider reading John G. Miller’s book: QBQ! The Question behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability in Work and in Life. Reading the book inspires one to move away from the blame game we have all been tempted to play at one time or other and take ownership of issues.

  6. Think about promises you make to new hires during the interviewing courtship period. In our zeal to want to attract the brightest and most talented, we can easily over promise. Keep a record of your interview notes and what you promised to candidates. If subsequent events make it impossible to keep the promises, at least you can address them with the individual. This is better than forgetting about them altogether.

  7. What about promises you made to yourself? Write out your personal and professional goals with clear targets. Read them once a week. Are your day-to-day action aligned with your values, your standards, your philosophy of leading? What are your boundaries? Do you take measures to protect them? If your answers to these questions are negative, what is causing this? What insights does this give you? Use this information as a means to spur you to action rather than guilt.

  8. Moliere, 17th century French dramatist, said: “It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” Is there anything that you are avoiding doing that needs to be done? For example, are you putting off a difficult conversation? Are you delaying any important decisions? Are you delegating away responsibilities that should stay in your court?

Self-accountability, then, is staying true to ourselves despite difficult circumstances. It’s doing the right thing even when we are tempted to bend a few rules for expediency’s sake. Perhaps Deborah Lee put it best: “Self-accountability is who you are when no one is looking”. It’s also the best antidote to feeling victimized by circumstances and in so doing, frees up precious creative energy for us to accomplish what matters to us. Above all, it entails owning up to the consequences of our decisions and choices, because there is no choice without accountability.

Brief Description
Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is an update to Windows Vista that addresses key feedback from our customers. SP1 addresses specific reliability and performance issues, supports new types of hardware, and adds support for several emerging standards.

Overview

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an update to Windows Vista that addresses feedback from our customers. In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability, performance, and compatibility issues; supporting new types of hardware; and adding support for several emerging standards. SP1 also will continue to make it easier for IT administrators to deploy and manage Windows Vista. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Five Language Standalone version can be installed on systems with any of the following language versions: English (US), French, German, Japanese, or Spanish (Traditional).Read the overview of Windows Vista SP1, including what’s new, technical details, guidelines and notable changes.Read the Deployment Guide for Windows Vista SP1. This guide includes technical information, procedures, and recommendations for installing Windows Vista SP1 in a business or corporate environment.DO NOT CLICK DOWNLOAD IF YOU ARE UPDATING JUST ONE COMPUTER: A smaller, more appropriate download is available on Windows Update.To download the Standalone version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 please follow the directions below in the Instructions section.

Before installing SP1, please visit the Windows Vista TechCenter and read the page “Things to Know Before you Download Windows Vista SP1

The Microsoft Download Center site is your only authorized web source for downloading a licensed copy of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. To report a website offering unlicensed copies of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 for download, please send e-mail to: piracy@microsoft.com or visit http://www.microsoft.com/piracy/ReportingUs.mspx.

This update is provided to you and licensed under the Windows Vista License Terms.

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an update to Windows Vista that addresses feedback from our customers. In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability, performance, and compatibility issues; supporting new types of hardware; and adding support for several emerging standards. SP1 also will continue to make it easier for IT administrators to deploy and manage Windows Vista. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Five Language Standalone version can be installed on systems with any of the following language versions: English (US), French, German, Japanese, or Spanish (Traditional).

Download: Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista [434.5 MB]
Download: Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista 64bit [726.5 MB]
View: Vista SP1 overview

Leading Equals
Motivating People Effectively, Without Authority

Does this sound like a job you’d want?

“You’ll be managing a diverse group of people from a variety of departments. They each have different areas of expertise and different ways of getting work done. The people don’t report to you, and you’ll have little to no authority over directing their performance. However, you’ll be held accountable for the team’s output. To accomplish the team’s goals, you’ll be expected, among other things, to motivate, facilitate, encourage, communicate effectively, build trust, and resolve conflict.”

This doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does it?

When leading a team of your peers, these are typical challenges.

Leadership is a complex subject. There are visionary leaders, empowering leaders, charismatic leaders, and values-based leaders. For each of these styles, there are situations where that style is and is not effective. However, the one thing that traditional leaders can usually rely on, regardless of their style or situation, is legitimate power. When things get tough, a traditional leader has the status and position to demand how work is done.

But when you’re in charge of a team of your peers, your level of authority is often nonexistent. You might have a little status as the person to whom the work has been given – but is that enough to lead what is essentially a horizontal collaboration?

To lead a multifunctional peer group, you must have all the characteristics of great leaders – and then some. Here are the key skills you’ll need to succeed.

Master the Group Process

Learn to lead discussions and proactively manage different personalities. You never know what past experiences – good and bad – team members have had with one another.

Whatever the history, your role as leader starts by setting a positive foundation for the team’s interactions:

  • Establish a relaxed environment, where everyone is encouraged to share opinions and ideas.
  • Ask for input from everyone, and encourage quieter members to speak up.
  • Use active listening skills, like paraphrasing and asking questions for clarification.
  • Insist on respect for one another and, for tasks taking a lot of time and effort, consider developing a team charter to define your team’s goals and how the team will work.
  • Use participative decision making tools, and try to ensure active involvement and commitment from the team.

Empower Team Members

Leaders who give power to others can be very influential and motivating. When leaders use their power to help others accomplish great things, people often want to work very hard for them.

When you empower someone, you’re essentially saying that you trust that person. When people feel trusted, they may naturally want to take on more responsibility for the outcome, because they’ll share in the spotlight when success is achieved.

Empowerment, then, is a great motivator, and it can be used to recognize the efforts of team members. When leading your peers, be creative with reward and recognition – sometimes assigning a task or granting a level of authority can serve as a very effective reward.

Beyond this, work hard to motivate the people you’re working with and, in particular, give praise wherever it’s due.

Be Flexible

Rules, regulations and a heavy-handed approach can cause resentment and non-compliance in a team of peers. Use discretion, and learn to adapt to the changing environment – this can be essential.

You won’t always be the expert, and you won’t always know what to do. With a flexible leadership style, you can often deal with changing circumstances without compromising your leadership role. If you rely on a rigid structure and style, you may find yourself challenged often, and you may waste your energy fighting interpersonal battles instead of accomplishing goals.

Essentially, you need to help your team adjust to changes in direction, circumstance, and priority. Whenever you get a cross-section of people working together, there can be times of ambiguity and uncertainty. When you’re open to change, your team will see that, and they’ll be more likely to also accept change.

Set Goals

Few teams would get very far without goals. Certainly you need goals to point you in the right direction and to evaluate performance. When you bring together a diverse set of people, having a clear direction is even more essential.

All team members will likely have their own perspectives. These could lead your team down very different paths – if there’s no central direction to follow. Different paths can also cause conflict around resources and priorities.

You can avoid many of these difficulties with clear goal setting that’s based on agreed and valuable objectives. It’s much easier to keep people working together effectively if objectives are clear, if it’s obvious how the team’s output will help its customer, and if disputes are resolved by referring to the team’s goals.

From then on, it’s important that you develop an implementation plan and remain focused on your targets.

Support and Protect Your Team

Each team member usually has his or her own regular job to do in addition to the team’s specific tasks. This means that commitment to your team may be weakened from many directions. As the leader, and the one who is ultimately accountable, concentrate on getting the support and resources your team needs to do the job well.

Focus on these three key areas:

  1. Obtain resources – Your team may quickly lose momentum if it encounters resource shortages. If you get your team what it needs – when the team needs it – your status, influence, and ability to motivate can increase significantly.

  2. Manage stakeholders – Many people outside your team may strongly influence the team’s success. First, you may encounter outside resistance from various sources. For example, John’s manager may not allow him to work more than one hour per week on team projects, or the finance director may refuse to “spend one more dollar on that project.”

    There may also be key team champions. As a leader, your challenge is to figure out how to use the champions’ influence to persuade “resisters” to change their opinions. A great way to gain the respect of your team is to protect it from negative outside influences so that members can produce great work.

  3. Obtain management feedback – Your team needs to know they’re supported. Make sure you receive regular communication from managers and executives. You’re the liaison – the link – to ensure that management knows what’s going on, and that your team knows what management thinks.

    This can be a delicate balancing act, because you don’t want to run back and forth with too much information. Figure out what each side needs to know to remain satisfied, and then provide it.

Key Points

Leading a team of your peers is a definite challenge, and it can put all of your leadership skills to the test. From setting goals to involving team members in decision making to creating a climate of openness and honesty, you need to have it all – and more.

If you remember to put your team’s goal and its needs first, and if you work very hard to protect their interests, you’ll prove to them that you’re committed to and passionate about their success. When you demonstrate that you believe in the value of their work, and when you’re willing to work through any obstacles you encounter, your team will respect your integrity – and they’ll want to work hard with you, and for you, to achieve results.



TeamViewer aka ‘Remote Desktop Connection’ is the fast, simple and friendly solution for remote access over the Internet – all applications in one single, very affordable module:

Remote control of computers over the Internet
Instantly take control over a computer anywhere on the Internet, even through firewalls. No installation required, just use it fast and secure.

Training, sales and teamwork
TeamViewer can also be used to present your desktop to a partner on the Internet. Show and share your software, PowerPoint presentations etc.

File transfer, chat and more
Share your files, chat, switch the direction during a teamwork session, and a lot more is included in TeamViewer

Note: TeamViewer is absolutely FREE for personal, non-commercial use

What’s New:

  • Alpha blending can now be ignored (advanced options)
  • Fix: Connection problems with Http/UDP on some proxy servers (mainly MS ISA server)
  • Fix: Identical IDs on cloned machines using the same VPN or router software
  • Additional minor fixes

Download: TeamViewer 3.5 Build 4140 (Freeware, 1.2MB)
Screenshot: >> Click here <<
View: Version History
Link: Home Page

Inno Setup 5.2.3

Posted: March 13, 2008 in Softwares
Tags:

Inno Setup is a free installer for Windows programs. First introduced in 1997, Inno Setup today rivals and even surpasses many commercial installers in feature set and stability.

Features:

  • Support for all versions of Windows in use today: Vista, XP, 2008, 2003, 2000, Me, 98, 95, and NT 4.0. (No service packs are required.)
  • Extensive support for installation of 64-bit applications on the 64-bit editions of Windows. Both the x64 and Itanium architectures are supported. (On the Itanium architecture, Service Pack 1 or later is required on Windows Server 2003 to install in 64-bit mode.)
  • Supports creation of a single EXE to install your program for easy online distribution. Disk spanning is also supported.
  • Standard Windows 2000/XP-style wizard interface.
  • Customizable setup types, e.g. Full, Minimal, Custom.
  • Complete uninstall capabilities.
  • Installation of files:
    – Includes integrated support for “deflate”, bzip2, and 7-Zip LZMA file compression. The installer has the ability to compare file version info, replace in-use files, use shared file counting, register DLL/OCX’s and type libraries, and install fonts.
  • Creation of shortcuts anywhere, including in the Start Menu and on the desktop.
  • Creation of registry and .INI entries.
  • Integrated Pascal scripting engine.
  • Support for multilingual installs.
  • Support for passworded and encrypted installs.
  • Silent install and uninstall.
  • Full source code is available (Borland Delphi 2.0-5.0).

What’s New:

  • Release Notes not available at the time of this news post.

Download: Inno Setup 5.2.3 (Freeware, 1.35MB)
View: Version History | FAQ
Link: Home Page

💡 I have checked all other installers and this one turns up to be a popular one presently. If you know installation scripting, then this program is for you.

Do PDF is a free PDF converter for both personal and commercial use. Using doPDF you can create PDF files by selecting the “Print” command from virtually any application. With one click you can convert your Microsoft Excel, Word or PowerPoint documents or your emails and favorite web sites to PDF files.
Features:

  • It’s free – for both commercial and personal use
  • 64-bit support – can be installed on 64-bit operating systems
  • No Ghostscript – doesn’t require 3rd party programs to do PDF files (like Ghostscript). This makes the setup file to be incredibly small compared to its competitors.
  • Customizable resolution – you can choose any resolution from 72 dpi to 2400 dpi
  • Predefined/custom page sizes – choose a default page size (Letter, Legal, A4, A5, A6, …) or enter your own custom page size
  • Searchable PDFs – you can search for text within the created PDF file (and search engines will also index the text from the PDF)
  • Multi-language – choose a language for the user interface from the 20 languages currently supported (credits)
  • Do your part in saving the planet – instead of consuming paper to print your document, why not create a PDF file out of it and spare a couple of planet-saving trees?

New in version 6:

  • Added languages tab
  • Bug fix for image transparency
  • Added website translation in Hungarian and Russian

Download: doPDF 6.0.253(Freeware, 1.36MB)
Screenshot: >> Click here <<
Link: Homepage
:. This free PDF converter is much better than the existing ones in the market 😉

Songbird 0.5 RC1

Posted: March 13, 2008 in Softwares
Tags:

Songbird is a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web. Songbird is committed to playing the music you want, from the sites you want, on the devices you want, challenging the conventions of discovery, purchase, consumption and organization of music on the Internet.Songbird is a player and a platform. Like Firefox, Songbird is an open source, Open Web project built on the Mozilla platform. Songbird provides a public playground for Web media mash-ups by providing developers with both desktop and Web APIs, developer resources and fostering Open Web media standards, to wit, an Open Media Web.

:. The player interface is almost like Apple iTunes player 😉

Download: Windows Version | Mac Version | Linux Version | Add-ons
Screenshot: >> Click here <<
View: Release Notes | Version History
Link: Home Page | Official Forum | Official Blog

Today, the FolderShare Team is shipping a Beta Refresh of both the Windows Live FolderShare website and client that offers some great improvements to the Windows Live FolderShare service at http://www.foldershare.com/. Those improvements include:

  • Improved usability with the Windows Live FolderShare website – UI aligns with other Windows Live services.
  • Updated Windows Live FolderShare Client.
  • Back-end improvements.
  • Full Windows Vista support with updated Windows Live FolderShare Client.

Today’s Beta Refresh supports Windows Live FolderShare’s already supported countries and regions: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

If you are already a Windows Live FolderShare Beta user – it is recommended you upgrade to today’s new beta client. Your account information, folders, device, and settings should migrate over just fine. Users who don’t upgrade to the new Windows Live FolderShare client Beta should expect to be asked to upgrade in the near future.

Download: FolderShare Beta Refresh v14.0.1325.0310 (Windows, 1.0 MB Macintosh, 1.2 MB)
View: FolderShare Website

CD Burner XP Pro is a free application to burn CD’s and DVD’s, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVD’s. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISO’s, as well as a multilanguage interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. It does not include Adware or similar malicious components.

Features:

  • burn all kinds of discs
  • audio-CDs with or without gaps between tracks
  • burn and create ISO files
  • data verification after burning process
  • create bootable discs
  • multi-language interface
  • bin/nrg → ISO converter, simple cover printing and much more!
  • Operating Systems: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista

What’s New:

    Version 4.0.024.439 – 2008-03-12

  • * Roaming user.config
  • * Usability improvements for a couple of dialogs
  • * New setup icon
  • * Fixed trial version dialogs of the file- and folder-browser controls
  • ! Date/Time column is now being sorted correctly
  • ! Fixed an issue with burning DVD-RWs
  • ! Prevent trailing or beginning whitespace for files and directories
  • ! Fixed an arithmetic overflow exception
  • ! Fixed a couple of drag and drop problems

    Version 4.0.022.370 – 2007-10-28

  • ! Fixed burn iso image feature

Download: CDBurnerXP Pro 4.0.024.439 (Freeware, 2.7MB)
Screenshot: >> Click here <<
View: Version History
Link: Home Page