Thursday, November 15, 2018

Values in Dynamic Tension


Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

Have you prioritized your values so you know which ones are more important than the others? Or are all of your personal values “tied for first?”

Here’s a way to test this idea. Note down your top four personal values, the desired principles that guide your day-to-day plans, decisions, and actions.

If you’ve formalized your personal values, this exercise took mere seconds. If you’ve not formalized them, it probably took longer.

You can’t consistently act on your values unless you’ve specifically defined them. Formalizing desired values requires you to identify 3-4 values that you covet. Then, add your definition for each value. Finally, include three or four behaviors for each value that specify exactly how you live or demonstrate that value day to day.

Here are my life values:

     Integrity – Definition: Do what I say I will do. Behaviors: Formalize my commitments with clear agreements. Keep my commitments. Live my values and behaviors.
     Joy – Definition: Celebrate the pleasure derived from doing things I’m good at and which serve others well. Behaviors: Be happy; if I’m not happy, change it up so happiness is present. Surround myself with happy people who see the good in others. Engage in the grace I feel when serving others well.
     Learning – Definition: Actively seek out information that builds new knowledge and skills. Behaviors: Scan the environment for current research and discoveries that enlighten me. Refine my skills often; toss antiquated approaches for improved approaches. Proactively share my learning so others benefit.
     Perfection – Definition: Deliver excellence. Behaviors: Deliver what I promise, on time and under budget. Exceed standards or expectations where possible. Consistently WOW my partners and customers.

There is a school of thought that says prioritizing values is the best way to act on them, especially under pressure. For example, if you had “safety” as your top value and “service” as your number two value, safety would take precedence over service. A safety issue would demand action even if it meant service would be negatively impacted that day (or hour).

Another school of thought says that all of your values are of equal, top priority. If you’ve outlined your values, why would you make one more important than another?

Reality, time constraints, emergencies, etc. will require you to act on only one or two values at a time; I believe the best approach lies somewhere in between the above two. Start with the belief that your values are all tied for first, and understand that your values are in “dynamic tension.” Acting on certain values while setting other values aside, even for a moment, will require you to circle back and apply any valued behaviors that were “passed over” in that instance.

So, if you acted on your “safety” value and inhibited “service” for a time, you would follow up with the player (or players) that you missed the service value on to explain what happened and make amends as soon as possible.

How do you manage competing values? What suggestions would you add to address values in “dynamic tension”? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Creating a Winning Corporate Culture Through People Power



Guest post from Eric Tetuan:

Creating a winning company culture starts with an investment in people. Not just investing in staff, but in relationships with clients as well as the people you serve. It requires having a deep understanding of human connections, of bonds, and of ways to break down barriers. Adopting a policy focused on people can make the difference in achieving successful outcomes. Employees who feel understood and appreciated are often more productive and willing go that extra mile on behalf of a client. It is one of the reasons why we receive repeat business and why our clients trust us with their biggest moments. It is also the reason for our high employee retention rate, and the lasting friendships amongst our staff members.
While every company is different, adopting values that speak to your core beliefs will not only help you attract quality candidates it will help build a sense of unity in the workplace. Develop initiatives that not only support your company’s mission but will improve the lives of your employees and the world around them. Inspire transformational thinking and experimentation amongst your staff, challenge them to think outside the box. Through collaboration, great minds can come together to tackle your toughest challenges advancing what’s possible. Design programs that not only do good in the community but improve motivation and communication within the office. Ask staff members to champion a cause that is near and dear to them, from donating their time at a soup kitchen, to ensuring that their coworkers are content. It is this culture of caring, of working for a greater good, that unites a staff and compels them to be the best they can be both personally and professionally. It will foster a spirit of collaboration, one where individuals share their knowledge to help their colleagues, and where professional development pays off. By creating a smarter workforce, you are creating a team able to produce amazing results on behalf of your clients, your partners as well as your consumers.

5 Tips to a Winning Work Culture:

The Power of People
Make your people feel that they are the heart and soul of your culture. It will ensure that your team feels connected to your mission, supported as individuals and that they feel appreciated for the work that they do. Recognizing that your employees spend more than one-third of their time in the workplace, create programs that are geared toward increasing employee satisfaction and promoting health and well-being. Offer in office exercise classes, healthy cooking classes, celebrate together with happy hours.  Boost office morale with staff appreciation days where you can pamper them with a catered lunch, spa treatments or present them with a small gift. By showing your team that you care about their well-being, it will result in increased job satisfaction and productivity. An investment in happier employees ultimately manifests in happier clients and consumers.

Honoring the Environment
Ask your employees to contribute to a better world. Find ways to protect the environment both in and out of the office. Create policies that promote energy efficiency, reduce waste and water conservation. Recycle plastics, aluminum, e-waste, and consider composting leftover lunches. Find ways to divert and donate old office furniture, add dimmable occupancy sensors in conference rooms, and use programmable controls for lights and thermostats. Simply asking your employees to turn off all of the lights before leaving can make a huge difference in energy conservation and how they feel about the environment.

Giving Back
Create a culture of giving. Support causes and organizations that can make a difference in your community by donating your time, money, or left-over materials. Share knowledge and resources that can help someone achieve their goal.  Empower your team to get involved with relief efforts and educational programs, create a mentorship program, or donate labor. Create a culture where PTO is available for employees to make a difference and effect change. By inspiring your team to get involved, they will become more engaged not only with the company, but with their peers in pursuit of improving the lives of those around them.

Innovation + Collaboration
Finding a pathway to improvement starts with an in-depth understanding of your challenges. Circulate surveys and collect honest feedback, use your deficiencies as a tool to find new solutions. Experiment with a variety of options, assign a team to explore and test theories, give them the freedom and space to become invested in the outcome. Empower your team by listening and acknowledging. A team that communicates well becomes a powerful tool to implement change.  

Knowledge is Power
Invest in your people. Provide employees with unique opportunities to advance their careers through education, training and certification. Host training workshops to assist teams in finding solutions to their toughest challenges. Support an employee’s quest for knowledge by letting them attend relevant seminars, webinars, help them stay at the top of their field with select conferences. Host lunch + Learns with deep insights into relevant topics and needed skills, create a library filled with resources to help your staff elevate their game.

Ultimately, by investing in people you are investing in a culture that supports personal growth and fuels productivity. A team that is able to come together to innovate and collaborate in exciting new ways that can impact on your bottom line. You are investing in a company culture that is better able to support your corporate mission, in an empowered team who is ready to assist clients and consumers with a transformational energy that can greatly improve your bottom line.


Co-founder and chief innovative officer at productionglue, Eric Tetuan has built his impressive technical portfolio over 25 years in New York City production. His skills reflect many different technical roles, including “in the trenches” experience.
As the company evolved, Eric’s focus turned to supporting growth, maintaining project performance, and overseeing office culture. Productionglue has seen a double-digit revenue increase for over a decade. Eric oversees the management of all of the processes to ensure that productionglue can deliver the best possible results. He established an internal review process (the “g-brief") to learn from projects and improve the way we work, in real time.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Great Leadership: The Power of I’s


Guest post from Bob Nelson:

In my new book, 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees (Career Press) I examine the top ten factors that most impact employee engagement in order of their priority, according to a regression analysis of 3 million employee surveys, and then provide specific real-life examples of what each factor looks like in practice in successful companies today.

Not surprising, I found that one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement is One’s Immediate Manager and all aspects that make up that relationship between a manager and his or her employees, that is, the bond that is created by effective leaders with those they lead. 

The best leaders demonstrate their long-term commitment to their employees through the specific behaviors they display on a daily basis.  Better yet, the most important behaviors leaders can do to develop and maintain motivated, engaged employees tend to have little or no cost, but rather are a function of the daily interactions that managers have with employees pertaining to work in the context of each employees’ jobs.

I remember some of the most important themes great leaders provide from the first letter of the word, which I call “The Power of the I’s”:

Interesting and Important Work—Everyone should have at least part of their job be of high interest to them. As the management theorist Frederick Herzberg once said, “If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” Yes, some jobs may be inherently boring, but you can give anyone in such a job at least one task or project that’s stimulating to that person. Name him or her to a suggestion committee that meets once a week, or to some other special group. The time away from the regular job is likely to be more than made up with increased productivity.

Information, Communication and Feedback on Performance—With presumed employment for life largely a thing of the past, employees want more than ever to know how they are doing in their jobs and how the company is doing in its business. Start telling them how the company makes money and how it spends money. Make sure there are ample channels of communication to encourage employees to be informed, ask questions and share information. At least some of the communication channels should directly involve management in non-intimidating circumstances. Soon you’ll have them turning out the lights when they’re last to leave a room.

Involvement in Decisions and a Sense of Ownership—Involving employees—especially in decisions that affect them—is both respectful to them and practical. People that are closest to the problem or the customer typically have the best insight as to how a situation can be improved. They know what works and what doesn’t, but often are never asked for their opinion. As you involve others, you increase their commitment and ease in implementing any new idea or change.

Independence, Autonomy and Flexibility—Most employees—especially experienced, top-performing employees—value being given room to do their job as they best see fit. All employees also appreciate having flexibility in their jobs. When you provide these factors to employees based on desired performance, it increases the likelihood that they will perform as desired—and bring additional initiative, ideas and energy to the job as well.

Increased Opportunity for Learning, Growth and Responsibility—Everyone appreciates a manager who gives credit where it is due. The chances to share the successes of employees with others throughout the organization are almost limitless. In addition, most employee development is on-the-job development that comes from new learning opportunities and the chance to gain new skills and experience. Giving employees new opportunities to perform, learn and grow as a form of recognition and thanks is very motivating to most employees.

Behind all of these themes is a basic premise of trust and respect and having the best interests of your employees at heart. You will never get the best effort from employees today by building a fire under them; rather, you need to find a way to build a fire within them to obtain extraordinary results from your people.

Bob Nelson, Ph.D. is the leading authority on employee recognition, rewards and engagement in the world and has been named a Top Thought Leader by the Best Practice Institute. He has sold 5 million books on those topics, the latest of which is 1,001 WAYS TO ENGAGE EMPLOYEES: Help People Do Better What They Do Best (Career Press).

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Quality All Great Leaders Have in Common – and How to Cultivate It Within Yourself


Guest post from Christy Whitman

Above all other qualities, vision is the most essential to extraordinary leadership.   Throughout every era of time, and in in every imaginable industry, the most influential leaders have been those who innately understand that what has been in the past, as well as the circumstances that exist in the present, do not have the power to limit the potential of what can be created in the future.  Great leaders hold tenaciously to the reality they envision in their hearts — even in the shadow of previous failures, and even in the absence of tangible evidence that what they want is possible to achieve.  In other words, a great leader is someone who gives more credence to the vision that calls to them than they do to any voice of disbelief or doubt.
 
Most of the world is not living in a mindset of true leadership, but has instead fallen into the habit of simply reacting to whatever is going on around them.   And while it is very compelling to give our attention, our focus, and therefore our powerful, magnetic creative energy to those things that are not right now as we would like them to be, directing the precious gift of our attention in this manner nails our creative feet to the floor and keeps us from cooperating with our own desires.  Leadership requires us to launch ourselves out of the very human tendency to allow other people, external circumstances, and our own self-doubts to dictate what we believe we can accomplish, and therefore what we allow ourselves to envision.  Posing as the truth, these considerations are often camouflaged as legitimate concerns that go something like this: I don’t have the money. It’s not the right time. What will others think? If I go for my dream, I might fail. I should just be happy with the life I have.
 
Considerations like these may appear as formidable conditions over which we are powerless, but this is both an illusion and a critical error in thinking. The obstacle that stands in our way is not a money problem, a time problem or a people problem; it’s a vision problem. When we are focused only upon the current conditions of our lives, we deprive ourselves of our innate ability to create anything different.  We simply cannot give our attention to things that are other than we’d like them to be and create what we want at the same time.    In every moment, we are either doing one or the other. 

So for example, if you, as the leader of an organization, are focused upon the weakness or ineffectiveness of your team, you must understand that you are using your powerful creative energy to contradict rather than support your own desire to lead them to success.  But when on the other hand you go out of your way to notice and then deliberately appreciate each person and aspect of your business that is working well, your focus is aligned with your vision, and you are nurturing its growth and ultimate fruition through the power of your attention.
  
Some people believe that being a great leader requires discipline – and it most certainly does – but it’s not the “nose to the grindstone” effort and struggle that we’ve been taught is necessary for success.   The most important discipline that we as leaders can ever practice is that which takes place not in the realm of action, but in the quiet of our own minds.  It takes great discipline to identify a particular outcome and summon the intention to make it happen.  It takes discipline to focus on a desire with enough clarity that it begins to coalesce into a vision.  And it takes discipline to bring the energy of our most frequent and consistent thoughts, feelings, moods and expectations into alignment with the vision of what we do want, rather than chronically noticing the absence of it.  Once we have aligned ourselves with our own vision so completely that we are not simply willing to entertain any other possibility, we unlock the secret to magnetism, to charisma, and to seamlessly attracting those who want nothing more than to play their role in the play that we are orchestrating.

Right now in your own life, you are surrounded by conditions and considerations that may have you convinced that you are powerless to become the leader you desire to be, whether in your business or in your personal life.  You may believe that you’re too old, that the odds are stacked against you, or that everything you desire to accomplish has already been done before.  But however these thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions show up for you, it’s imperative that you begin to recognize them for what they really are.  They may be evidence of what has been, but they don’t need to limit your vision of what can become.  Once you understand that what you direct your energy toward is what you will ultimately begin to attract, you will reclaim the power to create your life on purpose rather than by default, and, by example, you will teach others how to do the same. 

Christy Whitman is a transformational leader and the New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Having It All and co-author of Taming Your Alpha Bitch. Here new book is called Quantum Success: 7 Essential Laws for a Thriving, Joyful, and Prosperous Relationship with Work and Money.  She has appeared on Today and The Morning Show, and her work has been featured in People, SeventeenWoman’s DayHollywood Life, and Teen Vogue, among others. As the CEO and founder of the Quantum Success Coaching Academy, Christy has helped thousands of people worldwide to achieve their goals through her empowerment seminars, speeches, coaching sessions, and products. She currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and their two boys.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Enduring Uncertainty


Guest post from Chris Lewis:

Go on admit it. You’re busy, right? Busier than last year. Busier probably than five years ago. In fact, you’re busier than you can ever remember being. You’re now so busy most people couldn’t even begin to understand how busy you are. And you don’t have time to tell them anyway. 

There was a time when life was slower. It all used to be so certain. You could plan. You could predict. You could be safe. Well, how’s that working out for ya after 9/11, the banking crisis, Brexit, and Trump? It’s a constant crisis.

The characteristic of all leadership in the 21st century is now the speed at which it needs to respond to crises as well as doing their day job. Burnt-out leaders end up with never-ending ‘to-do’ lists, and that’s not really their job. Of course, they need to do something; everyone knows that. Leaders though are more than that. They have to ‘be’ something. They need to represent values because that’s what permits a collective identity. If you don’t have that, you can’t have leaders.

Try this test. Ask someone to describe their parents. Usually, they respond that their parent is loving or caring or patient or dynamic or ambitious. Now ask them to describe themselves.

Usually, they say they go to work or take their kids to school or help them with their homework or put them to bed. What’s the difference? The latter description focuses on what the person does – primarily how they manage things. The former though is quite distinctive.  It focuses on who people are. That’s the essence of leadership – who you are. The values matter.

Three things always hamper any talk of leadership.

First, it’s unusual to sit and discuss leadership because everyone is now so busy. Conversation, especially among busy strangers, is particularly difficult. It usually happens online and conforms to Godwin’s Law which asserts that people will be likened to Nazis in direct proportion to the length of the conversation.

This brings up another point that just because we have more communication, it doesn’t follow that there is more conversation. And no conversation means no ability to negotiate or resolve emotions.

Secondly, it starts from an ego-centric idea that any discussion of leadership focuses on the leader and never the -ship. This is the model of the infallible, visionary, confident, male which has been passed down through centuries from Moses to Elon Musk. You’ve seen that movie before. 

Of course, it’s a complete myth. Sure, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, but did he get there without a team?

This is where the ‘infallible male’ idea is revealed as a myth. There is a great deal of research out there that says this model is becoming outdated.

Let’s take the principle of collaboration and teamwork. On almost any measure, female leaders are more effective at collaboration, empathy, and teamwork than men. Often, this takes the form of female leaders sacrificing personal goals to meet those of others. 

Male leaders are most usually the other way around. They achieve individual goals at the expense of the broader group. The argument for gender equality in leadership is not just a matter of social justice. It’s imperative for efficiency.

Finally, male egocentric leadership is the provenance of all certainty. This is pickled in logic, analysis, and data. It permits men to predict. It does not allow teams to prepare. This is where we need more than a Western Reductionist philosophy. 

Analysis has been essential and continues to be, but parenthesis matters, too. Think of it like this. Drill-down, yes. But look-across, also.

Female leadership allows the uncertainty of imagination and emotion into leadership. Thus, the provenance of all certainty is not fact, but mediocrity. Leaders must embrace uncertainty because that’s all that exists now and in the future.

Chris Lewis is co-author, with Pippa Malmgrem, of The Leadership Lab: Understanding Leadership In The 21st Century. Lewis, a former journalist, is founder of one of the largest creative agencies in the world, LEWIS. Founded in 1995, his practice now encompasses more than 25 offices and 500 staff. He is British, but splits his time between Britain and America. For more information, please visit: www.koganpage.com/theleadershiplab

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Letting Go of the Big Chief Motif


Guest post from Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III:

Discipline, focus and drive got you where you are today. You lost count of the sacrifices long ago – free weekends, discretionary purchases, a good night’s sleep – all to achieve your vision. You did it. Now get over it.

We all want to be effective leaders so that we can guide others to contribute to our vision, but we tend to overlook the importance of humility in leadership. By humility, I don’t mean modesty about what you have achieved; I mean being humble enough to abandon the “Big Chief” mentality and embrace the input of others. Forget the CEO or Executive or Senior Whatever title you have and get down in the trenches. Better yet, lift up those around you and empower them to work alongside you. In doing so, you not only effectively lead others, but also guide them to follow suit.

The need for personal recognition can be a powerful, yet blinding, force. I experienced this myself several years ago. I was sitting in a meeting during which we were trying to find a way to overcome the challenge of getting other churches and pastors to come together. The issue, one of my colleagues suggested, was that no one could figure out who should be in charge. The role of the leader had become more important than the work being done.
People get used to operating in this “Big Chief” motif because their egos crave it. But, it’s bad for business. In addition to limiting innovation, it creates smaller chiefs who want to maintain power they assume they have. So, the employee who craves your approval cares little about advancing your vision, and more about advancing his or her own career. This leads to jealousy, insecurity and grandstanding.

After experiencing this among my own team, I made some changes. I abandoned the hierarchical, top down flow chart and shifted to a relational model. I drew a circle and put myself in the middle. All of my managers were placed around the circle. Now, when I share a vision, I share it with all of them and ask for input. In turn, I respect input from anyone in that circle. In fact, I even welcome input from team members outside of the circle. The possibility of a groundbreaking idea is more valuable to me than maintaining this idea of seniority.

Working with others rather than above them does not mean you are minimizing what you have accomplished or demeaning your capabilities. Rather, you are expanding your potential. We have incredible limitations on our time; if all ideas stop with us, very little will ever get done. And, as intelligent as we may be, it takes the ideas of many to spark true brilliance. Collaboration fosters innovation. You cannot be cutting edge if your circle always depends on you to do the thinking. Proverbs 27:17 declares, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

When we let go of the focus on titles, positions and accolades, we set the tone for successful ideation and instill this characteristic in others, cultivating the next wave of leadership. This is humility at its best – productive and positive. It helps everyone in your orbit feel empowered to contribute to a collective vision, driving it forward rather than simply being passengers along for the ride. This is the how to dispense with Chiefs, big and small, and focus instead on building a better team.  



About the author:

Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III is the pastor of the historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee and Presiding Bishop of Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship International. In 1992 at the age of 24, Bishop Walker began his pastorate at Mt. Zion with 175 members, which has grown to over 30,000, and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. He’s the author of the book called No Opportunity Wasted: The Art of Execution. You can connect with Bishop Walker at: https://www.josephwalker3.org/.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Why Managers Don’t Listen (Poor Listener Syndrome): and the Cures!


One of the most important skills for any manager is listening. Listening demonstrates respect, concern, an openness to new ideas, empathy, compassion, curiosity, trust, loyalty, and receptivity to feedback – all considered to be qualities of an effective leader.

Listening isn’t rocket science. We are born with the ability to listen, yet somehow managers, at some point in their careers, seem to forget how to use this natural born gift. Listening is one of the most consistently lowest rated behaviors in 360 degree feedback assessments for managers. It’s a management disease – Poor Listener Syndrome (PLS)!

Actually, it’s not just managers that don’t listen – it’s also employees, husbands, wives, kids, students, teachers, and just about human being with two ears. However, this is a management and leadership resource, so we’ll stick with listening in the context of a management skill.

So if listening is such an important management skill and it’s an ability we were born with, why do so many managers get feedback that say they are poor listeners?
That’s an issue I’ve explored with several managers when I review their 360 assessment results. Here are the seven most frequent reasons, and a prescription for each cause:

1. They don’t know they are poor listeners – it’s a blind spot. A behavioral blind spot is the gap between our intentions and our behaviors. We see ourselves as a good listener, but others don’t. Given that candid feedback is such a rare commodity, we are clueless about our flaws until they are pointed out by others. And even when they are, we sometimes still deny they exist (fight or flight).

The cure: Get some feedback. Feedback is a gift, and awareness is the key to self-development.

2. They don’t understand the value of listening. I’ll often have to spend time explaining the impact of poor listening to managers, either in a coaching session or in a training class. Sometimes I’ll demonstrate it. At some point, the light goes on, and for the first time in their lives they get it. These are the same managers who are often having issues in their personal lives, with their friends and family, and poor listening is often the culprit.

The cure: Read the research, discuss the importance of listening with others, and experience the positive effects when you focus on improving your listening skills!

3. They don’t know how to listen. Managers often get low scores in listening but insist they understand the importance of listening and that they DO listen. While this may be true (good intentions), others see behaviors that convey a lack of listening.

The cure: Listening skills are relatively easy behaviors to learn, with a little awareness and practice. They include:
·         Making eye contact
·         Head nodding
·         An open posture
·         Leaning forward
·         Arms uncrossed
·         Using encouraging phrases such as “go on”, “tell me more”, “uh uh”, or anything to show that you are paying attention
·         Paraphrasing (repeating back in your own words to check for understanding
Take a short course, read a book, observe others, practice, and get feedback. Like any new skill, it will feel unnatural at first, but with deliberate practice, the skill soon becomes a habit.

4. They are impatient, smart, or easily distracted. OK, these are actually three separate, but sometimes related causes. Highly successful, intelligent,  type A managers often find it difficult to slow down and take the extra time to listen. They jump ahead and want to finish someone’s sentence, use hand gestures to speed someone along, or their minds start racing on to other issues and thoughts. Smartphone checking is a symptom of this impatience and habitual multi-tasking.

The cures: Shut the door, turn off the smartphone, focus, and give the person in front of you 100% of your attention. Think of it as a gift, and observe the difference in how others respond.

5. They listen selectively. This reason is one of the most common, and becomes apparent with 360 degree assessment results. The manager shows high in listening for the boss and superiors, but low with peers or direct reports.

The cure: The skills are there- you just have to apply them consistently!

6. They don’t value people at all. Managers won’t admit this, but when they try to justify their low listening scores, it becomes apparent that they just don’t see value in paying attention to what others have to say. They just may not be interested in people. In the worst cases, it’s extreme arrogance.

The cure: Fake it until you make it. If you can convince a manager that it is in their own selfish self-interest to at least pretend that they are listening, they might be willing to mimic listening behaviors. Yes, it’s not authentic, and some people will see through it, but sometimes if you practice a behavior long enough, you get good at it, and you start to become the behavior.

7. They have poor hearing. I know this from personal experience, when a caring manager told me that others were complaining that I didn’t listen to them. That, and my wife complaining that the TV was too loud.

The cause: get your hearing checked, and if you are told you need hearing aids (and can afford them), get it done. Your family and employees will appreciate it, and you’ll find out what you’ve been missing.

Need an executive coach that can work with you or your leaders to improve their listening skills? Or a half day training program? Please contact me to discuss!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

What if Serving Others Actually Serves You, too?


What if Serving Others Actually Serves You, too?

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

The cashier at the checkout line at our local grocery store was literally singing. “Did you find everything you neeeedd?” was the next line in his obviously many-times-rehearsed “show,” and he smiled and laughed as he finished up. He most likely does not have had a high paying career as a cashier, but he does create a joyful work environment!

On a daily basis, can you say that your job brings you joy? Do you experience the pure pleasure of serving others beautifully, work well done, and cooperative interaction with team members? Do you relish the learning and discovery your work provides?

Or is work a source of consternation for you, with more politics than pleasure, more battles than beauty?

How about in the rest of your life? Do you experience the pure pleasure of serving others beautifully, work well done, and cooperative interaction with family members, friends, and neighbors, every day?

Or, not exactly?

Research on happiness (Happy Planet Index) and engagement (Towers Watson Global Workforce Study) indicates that people around the globe don’t experience well-being consistently at work or in their personal lives.

If you didn’t jump out of bed this particular morning excited about work, that doesn’t mean you should quit. But if you’re not genuinely inspired by your life and your work, you are likely eroding your well-being and life satisfaction.

I do suggest that you choose to refine your daily life to include activities that are aligned with your purpose and values, and that serve others well.

By adding engaging activities – slowly but intentionally – you increase your personal joy, service, and alignment. Even an hour a week will boost your positive well-being.
How shall you start? First, identify activities that meet three criteria: you love doing them, they genuinely serve others, and they’re not against local laws.
Second, identify current and possible avenues that would enable you to engage in those “high impact” activities.

Those activities might include things like:
     If you love learning and love books, create a book club. At work, try a monthly lunch meeting to review business books that might increase knowledge, efficiency, and teamwork.
     Volunteer at a local non-profit. Stock shelves at a food bank or serve meals at a homeless shelter.
     Start up a weekly music showcase at your local coffee house. Seek out musicians who would love to share their passions with a live audience.
     Volunteer at local events that inspire you. For example, every year since 1994 there has been a huge festival/conference called South By Southwest in Austin, TX. That three-week event requires 14,000 volunteers to help it run smoothly!

Third, don’t just think about engaging in these activities. DO them. Add at least an hour per week of your unique “high impact” activities, starting NOW.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to refine your life and work. Take the time to engage in activities you love and that serve others well – it’ll do you GOOD.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here

Thursday, September 27, 2018

My Friend Ohm (the Elephant)


Guest post from Brent Chapman:

I awoke from a 3 hour ride in the back seat of a Toyota sedan to the driver telling us we had arrived.  We stepped out of the car into the muggy, humid morning of a remote location 200 kilometers outside of Bangkok.  To my amazement, we were the only vehicle in the dirt parking area amongst a compound of small insignificant buildings and…elephants.  Lots and lots of elephants.  Elephants just walking around like they ran the place. (Later to find out, they actually do run the place.)

An Elephant Camp is a unique experience.  It is a collection of elephants either sold or leased to the camp. The camp trains and cares for the elephants, and allows tourists (like us) to come and visit, ride, and swim with them.  They are free to roam.  There aren’t any cages. The only exception were the baby elephants housed in a caged area.  Apparently it’s not a great idea to let a baby elephant run around unsupervised.  Imagine a 400 pound one-year-old that can move fast!?! They explained that one baby had run through the wall of a building on the property and collapsed it.

They led us in to first eat breakfast and then off to meet our elephants.  My elephant was named Ohm.  This was nothing like when you see elephants ridden at the zoo.  There were no baskets or ropes. It was just me and Ohm. They helped us get on the elephant.  They instructed us to hold on to something and advised we grab their ear lobes.  Awesome, I know I love it when a stranger tugs on my earlobes.

Then the real journey began.  They taught us the voice commands needed to control our elephant and told us to meet them down at the river. Huh?  As in, their big plan was to leave us alone with these gigantic adult elephants, and control them with the 5 minute training session we just got. To be fair, Ohm knew the route and I had to do very little but to hold on and pray I didn’t fall 10 feet off the back of my new friend.

Side note: Interesting fact, elephants are hairy.  They have prickly hair all over their neck and back and it’s uncomfortable to sit on.

The first few minutes were very intimidating and then I got comfortable. Ohm walked me around the compound (stopping to get a snack occasionally) and took me down to the river where we swam and played and it was an awesome experience.  I went from pure fear to one of the coolest experiences of my life…and all I did was take a chance.  I had confidence, I held back the fear, and I took a chance on myself (and Ohm).

And so is life…and more appropriately, this is how our day-to-day careers transpire.  We wake up to something we weren’t expecting.  An opportunity of an assignment, or an issue that we have to complete with either very little explanation or none at all.  And we are expected to succeed.  And our jobs depend on it.  And how do we do it?  We do it with confidence.  We trust what we know, we trust ourselves, we grab the task and we make it happen. And those are the moments that help us grow and learn and evolve.  Those accomplishments are the moments that we cherish and that we use to motivate us for the next challenge.

So, when you get to work this week and someone hands you your own version of taking Ohm down to the river for a swim – Don’t be afraid, jump on and enjoy the ride!

Brent Chapman, CIO of RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corp, is co-author, with Kevin Brungardt, of a forthcoming book on leadership and culture. Chapman was named to the Charlotte Business Journal's 2018 40 Under 40 and has also been a finalist for both the 2018 Dallas CIO of the Year and the 2018 Charlotte CIO of the Year. For more information, please visit www.brungardtchapman.com.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How Effective is Your Communication?


Guest post from David Hiatt:

Lack of effective communication skills has done more to keep good people from being promoted into leadership roles than any other skill deficiency.  I hope I have your attention because in over 30 years of working with managers and organizations, my experience is that a lack of effective communication skills has kept very talented and skilled people from becoming leaders.  They have this great knowledge and skill set for the job requirements but communicating in a manner to get positive outcomes from others was sorely lacking.

Communication is a basic human need.  Interacting with other humans has been the core of human progress throughout the ages.  Isolation and lack of human interaction will emotionally, mentally, and physically debilitate a person; as will ineffective conversations.  On the other end of the spectrum, when you communicate effectively and achieve more positive outcomes you enhance your sense of well-being.  I don’t know about you, but I know that I would prefer to think and feel better.  

Just because two or more people are talking with each other does not necessarily mean they are communicating. Communication requires several key skills and components.  Key components include understanding yourself and others, creating agreements about the conversation, emotional involvement (or lack of), attitude and beliefs, and your comfort zone. Skills include listening, and questioning.  If you want to achieve more positive outcomes with co-workers, or family and friends the above skills and components will improve your communication.

Understanding the other person can be key.  When you can identify the behavioral style or preferences of the other people with whom you communicate you are better able to adapt your message in such a way that the other people have a better chance of understanding you.  An example of this would be communicating with a Dominant Style who prefers, direct, to the point, task-oriented interactions and you want to chit-chat about the weather.  That Dominant person will not be engaged, and the odds of a positive outcome diminish. 

Another way to understand the others with whom you communicate is to determine if they are being emotional, judgmental, or just exchanging information; and then being self-aware enough to make sure that you are nurturing and sharing information without judgement or emotion.  It is okay to care enough to want a positive outcome but if you attempt to communicate when simply reacting to your or the other person’s emotions it is not unusual to find yourself in a shouting match with negative outcomes.

I have found that when you set goals and expectations for the important conversations you tend to get better results. What I mean is that the conversation should have an agreed upon purpose, confirmation of the time allotted, agreed upon agendas and expectations of people engaged in the conversation, and a goal or outcome at the end of the conversation.  When you add the component of a mutual agreement at the beginning of those important conversations you are better able to control the direction and therefore the outcome of the conversation.

Emotional involvement is double-edged.  As I mentioned earlier, you want to care enough to accomplish a positive outcome at the end of the conversation, yet you should not be communicating emotionally.  If you are communicating from your emotional ego-state, you will not be able to think objectively or to listen clearly.  Emotions will always cloud your thinking and cause you to say or to respond in a manner that will result in a less than positive outcome.

Your attitude and beliefs are intertwined with your self-concept and create your view of reality.  The important thing to remember is that the other person or people with whom you are communicating will not have the same view.  According to each person’s view, they are right.  Whatever beliefs you were taught or acquired throughout your life will become your definition of normal.  Your subconscious’ job is to keep you normal, whatever normal means to you.  Do a self-assessment of your attitudes and beliefs and decide which are still appropriate as an adult and which are hurting your efforts to be a more effective communicator.

Listening is a skill that much has been written about.  I urge you to read as much as you can on listening skills.  My experience has taught me that listening is much more than just looking at the other person and nodding my head! I must make sure that I am understanding what they are saying and the intention behind it.  This means the good listening skills should include good questioning skills. When you are unsure of what the other person is asking or saying you must ask them to clarify.  Be careful.  Your belief that it is rude to ask so many questions may prevent you from asking the key questions for real understanding, which, by the way, is what real listening is about.

David Hiatt is author of FROM THE BOARDROOM TO THE LIVING ROOM:  Communicate With Skill For Positive Outcomes. After 10 years of owning and operating a successful Sandler Training center, he was recruited by Sandler corporate to handle the bulk of national and international training through the Global Accounts division. With a BA and Masters in Communications, he is a passionate and energetic program leader who is truly concerned with helping others to grow, develop, and communicate.