6 Safety Leadership Attributes Most Effective in Changing Behaviors

“Its easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

MARK TWAIN

In our attempt to become effective safety leaders, we must build strong relationships, respect, and create an atmosphere of trust and value. In my years of growth as a safety professional, I’ve learned through trial and error how to build real relationships with the workforce. These relationships resulted in respect and trust. In a recent survey to 50 hourly workforce employees, I asked the following question; 

“what leadership attributes would be most effective in convincing you to consider changing your actions and behaviors.” 

With the responses, I was able to identify 6 keys attributes safety professionals need to exhibit to convince workers to change their actions and behaviors.

  1. Clarity: Communicate the “why” of each expectation and requirement – We must be clear and concise in our expectations and requirements, but to ensure buy-in, you must present why these instructions are critical to the safety of each worker. People want to be “in the know.” They want to know where they are headed and what you expect from them so they can deliver. 
  2. Relationship: Connect with your workers – Many safety professionals are enforcers and don’t focus on conencting and building relationship. This causes tension and disrespect. Be present with your people. Please don’t leave them wondering who you are. They are looking for you to connect with them and build a working relationship. Learn names. Acknowledge people as you walk around. Recognize that life is going on outside of work. 
  3. Confident humility: Humble yourself and empower your workforce for success – Be competent and confident in your role, but lead with humility. Be decisive when necessary, and illustrate your knowledge by the reality of your decisions. Ask for suggestions and consider all solutions when looking to implement or change requirements and expectations. Safety professionals make mistakes often. I know I do!
  4. Encourager: Cheer on your workforce – While walking the work area(s), be on the lookout for those who are exceeding expectations and give them the recognition they deserve. Let those who are meeting the minimum requirements know how much you appreciate them following the rules and meeting your expectations. Encourage those doing the right thing that they are setting themselves up to go home the same way they came in. FOr those not exhibiting safe behaviors, ask them “why”, explain the expectations and “why” and encourage them to commit to working safely.
  5. Courage: Challenge your workforce – When problems occur, challenge your workforce to identify solutions. Creativity and innovation drive buy-in, which results in progress and safe performance. Have difficult conversations when necessary, and always get a commitment to do the right thing. People want to know where they stand and where they might need to improve.
  6. Passion: Let your workforce know you care for them – LOVE what you do or LEAVE! Exhibit unlimited energy and enthusiasm for your people, purpose, vision, and the values you embrace. Passion will drive buy-in and respect. It will inspire the workforce to consider doing the right thing. The safety profession is about people. When workers realize your passion is for their safety, and not just a job, they will be more prone to do what is right. Don’t be shy about your passions; let it shine through, and people will follow.

Exhibit these six attributes, and you will build strong relationships, gain respect, and create an atmosphere of trust and value. Accomplishing this will reduce risks, prevent injuries, and make a difference in others!

undefinedDenis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

WHAT WILL YOUR LEADERSHIP LOOK LIKE IN 2020

“Don’t Fool Yourself; LEADERSHIP IS HARD!”

In my effort to cultivate and grow my leadership, I find it challenging to stay the course and achieve what I read, witness, and teach. In fact, I often find myself telling people one thing and doing the exact opposite. Doing that can hurt those you lead, coach, mentor, or teach. If you don’t improve, you will ultimately lose respect, trust, and, eventually, the ability to influence. 

As 2020 approaches, I decided to evaluate my leadership abilities and identify those things I do well and those areas where I need to improve. The last four years have been a personal leadership challenge for me. I’ve had a job change that put me in a role with no direct reports and limited my decision-making authority. I’ve had to learn to lead differently. The term; “influence without authority” has become an actual reality challenge for me.

During my self-evaluation, I identified my top 5 strengths in leading others and having a strong influence on the decision making process.

1. I am a very HIGH ENERGY AND PASSIONATE leader in the areas I believe in.

2. I am willing to embrace CHANGE, even if I don’t entirely agree with it

3. I am PERSISTENT in my approach to achieving my desires, goals, and objectives

4. I am CONFIDENT in my decision making but open to ideas and suggestions

5. I am a strong ENGAGER of people

It is always good to identify your strong points, but it can be challenging to identify areas for improvement. The way I approached this was to reflect on 2019 and the many conversations, suggestions, and feedback I received throughout the year. I am always asking for feedback (although many times I don’t want to hear it or I have an excuse) 

Based on my evaluation and reflection, I will focus on building and improving the following five leadership traits in 2020. 

1. Being Clear in My Communication – I will work to enhance my communication approach through tone and word choices. Working to pull my feelings and frustration back and undoubtedly transfer my thoughts, ideas, and expectations. I will explain the “why” more often and ensure people are well informed. People want to be “in the know.” People want to deliver expectations, but can’t be successful if we don’t clearly and successfully communicate. They also want to know what the rewards are for good work and the consequences for sub-standard work.

2. Build Stronger Relationships – Relationships are critical to leadership. Strong relationships build trust and respect and offer the opportunity to influence. I will work to be present with my customers, leaders, and the workforce. I will reach out for general conversations and make sure I follow-up with the right people. I will work to show how much I care about all facets of the business. It is said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” They are looking for you to care for them and build a working relationship. I will work harder to learn and remember names and recognize that life is going on outside of work.

3. Humble Myself – I am am very confident in my role but must be better at leading with humility. I don’t know everything and always make the right decisions, but I will work diligently to illustrate my knowledge through the quality of my choices. I will recognize all persons, regardless of position, and work to realize that no one is any more important than anyone else. I will demonstrate this through my actions and interactions. I will let each know how important they are by involving them and getting their brains in the game.

4. Be a Stronger Encourager – I will continuously look for and recognize the great work people are doing. I will express my gratitude and exemplify the positive difference they are making. I will encourage them for their actions, the work they perform, and the value they add.

5. Have Courage – I understand creativity and innovation drive progress and performance. I will make bold decisions, push back when needed, but fully support the final decision. I will have difficult conversations when necessary, and I will do the difficult right things.

With a new year and new decade roll into place, I feel like it is the optimal time to increase my influence and achieve more than I ever have. I don’t know where most of you fall within your leadership needs (unless I know you). Still, I believe the results from my self-evaluation will encourage many of you to look within yourself, identify areas of improvement, and make the necessary changes to become a stronger influencer and more effective leader.

Change Takes Effort and Time. Are You Committed to See it Happen?

Change doesn’t result from one giant step, but rather it slowly appears after many small steps.”

Denis Baker

Change is a word found in everyone’s vocabulary, regardless of the language. It’s easy to pronounce, easy to spell and is used as a noun or a verb. The word can refer to; making a difference, doing or using something different, reflect your or someone else’s’ desire or actions, and is used to refer to money. However; change in life and business is an overlooked prospect in people. It is one of the most challenging things to embrace. People tend to push away change rather than embrace it.

If you want to make changes to your business, culture, or your people, you need to ask yourself this question:

“Am I willing to give the required effort and time to this cause?”

Making a significant change is at least a three to five-year effort, if not a 7-10-year commitment. If you’re not willing to stay for the necessary time, don’t start the changes. Many organizations expect change to occur quickly. That’s not going to happen. Signs of change are seen relatively quickly; however; for every step forward, there will be three steps backward. 

I’ve had a fantastic but challenging career. Through the years, I’ve become noted for my ability to change or implement a sustainable and robust culture. However; one of my significant career failings is that I began a positive change in many companies, but left before it was fully implemented. Many of my former employers have expressed their frustrations in my leaving before completion. 

A couple of years ago, I was talking with several executives at a potential employer about the changes they wanted to make in their organization. These changes included; culture, leadership ability, and teamwork. I asked, “How long are you willing to invest in these changes?” I received silence and stares. After about 3 minutes (seemed like an hour), one of the persons spoke up and said;

“Oh, I believe we are all aware that change will take six months to a year, and we are willing to fully support the effort during that time.”

Want to know how I responded? I’m sure you do. I looked at the person straight into their eyes and responded with this; 

“With that thought process, change will NEVER occur in this company. Moreover, I am probably not the right person for this position.”

I looked around the room and was met with faces of complete and utter shock! After I took a moment or two to view their facial expressions, I continued to explain why I disagreed with the person’s thought and shared my six principles of change to the group;

  1. Change starts with a vision, the idea must be communicated and embraced by the entire organization.
  2. Change creates motion and motion generates friction.
  3. I pointed out that 20% of the people will embrace the change, 50% will be undecided, and 30% will resist change. 
  4. I stated problems would come up and the only way to successfully address them is to be transparent in your dealings with people.
  5. Another critical aspect of change is ensuring open communication where people feel free and safe to share their thought and ideas. 
  6. A successful transition requires employee involvement and buy-in to eliminate the feeling that they have no control in the process.

I explained to the group that each of these steps took months, if not years, to fully implement and get total inclusion in the change. I explained that I believed the change would take at least 3-5 years, if not longer, based on the leadership ability, sense of urgency and commitment.

I ended my conversation by saying, 

“If six months to a year is all the time you’re willing to commit, don’t even get started with the changes. Nothing will happen in six months, and it will be a waste of time and resources.”

The VP of Human Resources looked at me and said,” Well, Denis, you have created some pretty deep thoughts, and I feel we need to discuss your comments as a group.” I was then walked out of the room and given a handshake as I left. 

One of my biggest lessons in executing change is to realize if you get in the middle of making changes and then bail, it’s like leaving a patient on the operating table. A doctor would never quit in the middle of a heat transplant. If you execute change and leave, your leaving people hanging. You’re just messing up the organization’s efforts. It will move the change process back by months, if not years. 

It’s the person filling your position who will suffer from your lack of commitment. At some point, they will have to deal with a big mess. When the next person creates his or her’s strategic plan and drafts up a vision, the organization will be reluctant in moving forward.

I once asked a pilot how he turns around a big plane in the air. He told me that it takes some time. “You can make almost a 90-degree turn in the air, and the plane can handle it, but your passengers will go crazy.” He said even a 45-degree turn is rough on passengers, but they don’t usually notice a 30-degree turn.

That’s why it’s so essential that you’re willing to stay with the organization long enough to fully complete the change. You can make a bunch of small yet significant changes over a long period. People won’t even notice. It’s when you try to make substantial changes quickly; people get upset and may not support your plans.

Slow the pace of change and be patient; success takes time.

Just ask Hank Aaron. On baseball’s opening day in 1954, Milwaukee Braves rookie Hank Aaron didn’t get a single hit in five trips to the plate. He could have quit that day. However, five outs didn’t define Hank Aaron. He batted another 12,359 times during his career, and he eventually broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record.

Remember this, success is not defined by how you start, but rather how you FINISH!

LOVE – HATE – DISCONTENT What’s Your View of Our World?

Recently, I was on a flight trying to get some sleep before arriving to meet up with my colleagues for a series of meetings. Usually, I prefer to take the first flight out so that the chances of a delay are reduced. However, I live 2 hrs from the airport and a 6 am flight is pretty darn early. So, I settled into my window seat and put on my headphones drifting off to the sounds of Ray LaMontagne. As people boarded, I realized very quickly that my flight was going to be a challenge. Two ladies sat behind me. And apparently, they began their early morning with several Bloody Mary’s.

Both women were VERY loud, vulgar and the one directly behind me would continuously slam down the tray and kick my seat. Her timing was impeccable! Every time I fell asleep, she did something to wake me up. Frustration began to settle into my soul. I would continually turn around and give her the evil eye, trying to get her attention to stop. However, I think it encouraged her to do it even more. I eventually fell asleep but awoke when she violently pulled the top of my seat backward. She was in haste to go to the bathroom and lacked a complete disregard for others around her.

I realized sleep would evade me. I took out my laptop and continued to listen to music with my noise-canceling headphones. The two of them were loud enough that I was able to hear their conversations (even with my noise-canceling headphones). I tried to ignore them, but the topics began to intrigue me. They were talking about politics, their hairdresser, husband, and boyfriend. I heard them bring up the cashier at the store and the “idiot” that made them miss a green light because he was on the phone (I would agree with them on that one). They talked about the ladies they were meeting for their birthday weekend and how annoying they were. They talked about how long it took the flight attendant to get them their drinks (I was praying she forgot). And this continued for the duration of the 3 hr flight.

As I sat there and went through all of his, I began to think about how people view the world we live. And I realized it’s all based on our perspective and the influences surrounding us.I thought about the phrase “love is, actually, all around.”

If you spend time pursuing social media, the web, CNN or Fox News, I believe you’d find that the current state of affairs is one consumed with hate and greed. Ethical values are hard to come by in the workplace, politics and within personal lives. It seems people with integrity are few and far between and that the underlying message to the young and old is that ” the world sucks, and then you die.”

I think the advent of social media and an increased interest in the 24 hr. news, we, as a society have become obsessed with the shockingly evil things that take place. The good in the world is rarely highlighted.

In the words of Hugh Grant’s opening monologue in the movie, “Love Actually,” he says this;

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinions starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate and revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually, is all around.”

As a frequent business traveler, I spend a large part of my day in and out of airports, traveling between cities, hoping to make my connection and eating high fat “travel” food. Airports provide a chance to catch up on phone calls, answer emails and work on projects. It is also a great place to people-watch.

Airports offer a simple look into society and the variation found in individuals. There are people happy to go on vacation and people frustrated because their travel plans have changed. There are some who’ve had too many drinks (remember the ladies behind me?) and others experiencing deep sadness as they travel to attend the funeral of a loved one.
One thing I’ve learned from the airport terminals and from sitting on long flights is that “love is actually all around us.”

I realize that we are not as bad as social media and the news make us out to be. Sure, I believe the world has changed. Our moral compasses have been compromised, and ethics and integrity have taken a back seat. However, in the modified words of Hugh Grant, mothers and fathers love their kids, grandparents cannot get enough of their grandkids, people will help others, and our hearts are generally kind. We do love each other, regardless of how we look, dress and the color of our hair. We ultimately know what is right and choose to make our own decisions. We are happy and sad, but we lean on family and friends to support and encourage us.

There is still a moral compass upon us, and we are a society based upon ethical business practices through the integrity of others. When someone is wrongfully influenced, leaders will arise to bring about truth and honesty. Although society has evolved over the years, I am determined to see the good that is all too often consumed with the sensationalism of hate.

undefinedDenis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

ACHIEVING CHANGE IN AN UNCHANGEABLE ENVIRONMENT

I recently began a new job with a large organization. The organization is somewhat unique to me because it consists of two legacy organizations each made up of multiple companies. Each organization operated independently until recently when ownership decided to merge the two legacy organizations into a single corporation with shared visions and goals.

“Change is achievable in any environment, as long as all layers are iniated in the change process.” – Denis Baker

I was hired to help create a transformational change where safety and health are Fotosearch_k27534040integrated into the entire operational culture. I believe this is the only practical method for achieving safety and health goals and ultimately an incident-free culture. Safety and health should never be “first” or a “priority,” but rather a core value integrated into the culture of the organization. You see, priorities change, values do not and first is not always. I often use a pie analogy to visualize this. The pie is divided into equal pieces, with safety and health having an equal slice of the total pie. No more, no less, but equal.

Whether your profession is safety or finance, the successful process of change is the same. Here are 10 principles to follow when initiating change. Execute these, and your efforts will be made fruitful.

1. Have compassion and understanding. Regardless of circumstances, change is scary, and you represent a terrifying unknown. Every location I visit, after we complete the professional introductions and small talk, I am met immediate resistance. And most will try and distance themselves. When I begin touring, asking questions and making suggestions, encounter looks of concern or frustration and often hear, “but that is not the way we do it,” or we’ve always done it this way.” To help soften my perceived impact, I often encourage their suggestions or solutions. This creates a great team-centered environment that allows them to consider any of my initiatives. Probably, the most important thing I’ve come to realize, is their reactions aren’t personal; they are just responding to an uninvited change.

2. Reach out and connect with those affected by the change. Success in anything cannot be achieved without effective relationships. Before a relationship can begin, one must first connect with the person or group. Do this by identifying common ground. Look for small wins that build respect and credibility.  In the beginning, change can be frustrating for both sides. It will be tempting to simply brush off questions or concerns, because you may feel it is easier to just do it. And it is. However, I BEG YOU to RESIST that urge! No doubt we want quick results, but you’re better off starting slow and finding common ground. Find opportunities for one-on-one interactions. For change to be successful, connecting with those affected requires consistent, realistic, heartfelt conversation.

3. Influence the influencers. Influence those who have influence, without neglecting the others. Pay attention to group dynamics and identify the influencers. Identify who they are, and get to know them immediately. Learn what they value and be transparent in addressing their needs, concerns or wants. Just remember, you can’t do or control what you don’t control.

4. Expect resistance and don’t ignore it. Resistance is always present for any change, especially culture change. Don’t think it will go away on its own, it won’t. In fact, if left unattended, it will multiply and infiltrate the entire organization. Once this occurs, your job just got tougher. Meet with the discontent. Put your pride aside and listen. Address each issue as it comes up, but don’t make any promises or commitments you can achieve. If that happens, you just lost all the trust and respect you’ve been working to achieve. Gain buy-in by understanding the reasons getting buy-in for your vision and goals for change. Realize that most of the resistors are the influencers.

5. Communicate your values. In the safety profession, it’tempting to withdraw when you encounter conflict, but you have to do the opposite. You’ve got to overcommunicate. Look for ways to demonstrate your values as you explain your vision. You want to reassure people that your principles are positive and show where your values align with theirs. The key is to be steady, positive and consistent.

6. Learn from other leaders. How do others achieve change? Read, ask and network, looking for ways and ideas that might work in your situation. I often tell people to go with their gut. Meaning, if your intuition is saying yes or no, then follow that “gut feeling” and move forward. As we say in the safety profession, “steal shamelessly.” Great leaders learn to steal the best ideas. Remember, their approach or tactics are vetted and proven.

7. Go forward boldly. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. (Just be sure to fix them faster than you make them!) Stop and assess yourself, your process and your progress often, and course-correct as needed. Mistakes are inevitable. Keep it moving.

8. Prioritize and act. Identify the one or two areas where you will receive the greatest benefit and make that your priority effort. However, always evaluate your progress, the level of reception, the level of effectiveness and be ready to make changes as needed.Remember you are the change agent, you must be willing to change.

9. Create wins for the organization. Never underestimate the power of early victories. They give people confidence to keep pushing forward, even though turning the ship is hard. Achieving an early win builds momentum. People trust leaders with a proven track record. They will accept changes from people who have led them to victory before. Remember, it is easier to steer a moving train than stop it.

10. Identify and equip other leaders. If you want to sustain change and start building momentum, you must start developing and equipping the leaders. This is something many organizations fail at. We take the best worker and make them the leader. Great principle, but horrible execution. We tend to neglect the coaching and training needed to make that person successful. Look for those who rise to the top and pour into them your coaching and mentoring efforts to see them become the best leaders possible.

When I am looking for a job, I tend to identify companies where change is needed. In Fotosearch_k21722018fact, I have been a crucial part of at least six organizations where a cultural change was required. I approach each opportunity by implementing these 10 principles. Execute these 10 principles and watch change take place.

What Message Are You Sending? PART 2 of 3 – 11 Rules and Etiquette for Crafting and Sending Effective Emails

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The way you craft or respond to an email determines the effectiveness of your words. That drives the intended outcome and creates the influence you desire.

When replying to emails, consider these ten (11) suggestions:

  1. Organize your words and paragraphs to make it easy for readers to follow and understand.
  2. Reflect on the email content before replying. Your leadership effectiveness is reflected in your response.
  3. Don’t automatically hit “Reply All.”  This should only be used when needed and with extreme caution.  You should only use “Reply All” when everyone on the “TO” list requires your response.  Most of the time, it is sufficient to only respond to the person who sent the email.
  4. Be Careful with the “Bcc.” The “Bcc:” option allows you to “blind carbon copy” someone on an email without any of the other recipients knowing. It can be useful in some cases when you wish to keep email addresses private.
  5. Avoid Cursing. Cursing in an email is just wrong. Don’t do it. Swearing in an email comes off as being ignorant or showing a lacking intelligence.
  6. Use proper grammar.  Don’t write like you speak. Remember, emails are forwarded all the time.
  7. Respond Regardless. Everyone would deserve a response, even if the email were mistakenly sent to you.  A simple, “I got your email,” or “I think this was addressed to me by mistake” will let the sender know you got the message.
  8. Be leery of tone. Each person interprets email tone differently.  A well-written email can easily be interpreted as a negative with the use of various words.  Many people use all caps. Doing this implies YOUR YELLING AT SOMEONE.
  9. Don’t Be Cute There is no room for cuteness or EMOJI’s, inappropriate pictures, etc.
  10. Include a professional signature. Include; your full name, title, work address and phone number.  When using a quote or image, be careful that it does not offend.
  11. Read it, then reread it. Read and re-read your email. Make sure your grammar, spelling, and choice of words portray the intended tone and message.

HOW TO REMAIN ENCOURAGED DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

You remember the saying, “Let the good times roll.” Well, sometimes the good times turn bad. We enjoy the benefit of things going well and t’s easy to encourage others when they’re down. But sooner or later, we will enter into difficult times. It’s inevitable. As I said in my last post, “How to Remain Motivated and Influential During Difficult Times,” I stated that, “no one will escape difficulty in life.” The reality is, there will be times of discouragement. But discouragement doesn’t mean we have to fall apart or quit.

I look to the scriptures for my daily encouragement. When difficult times hit, I find it even more important to study and mediatiate. Here are five bible verses to encourage you during difficult times.

Psalms46_3_1to7

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Psalms62_6

2Timothy1_7

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How to Stay Motivated and Influential in Difficult Times

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar

motivation concept with business elements and related keywords

It’s Friday, you are finishing up a few last things and then heading out for the weekend. As you are sitting in your office reading a report, you hear a light tap on the door. Looking up, you see your boss closing the door. S/he starts out by saying, you have really done an excellent job, but…… you probably know where this ends. Most of us have been there. You are about to encounter the harsh truth, you are out of a job. Maybe you just received news that you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer. Or maybe you find yourself falling on difficult financial times. Whatever it may be, there will be difficult times in all of our lives. Difficult times also bring on frustration, anxiety, and fear of the unknown.

As you stare down on this big ugly beast, realize that your reaction will determine your success or failure. What will your reaction be, discouragement or comfort? Your answer depends on you. I think we all feel disbelief and despair in the beginning. But it doesn’t have to consume us. In fact, I believe we must take advantage of these situations and find ways to stay motivated and encouraged in difficult times.

Here are 10 ways I stay motivated during difficult times:

  1. Realize life flows up and down – Life is a cycle. There will always be good and bad times. It’s how we react and handle those times that determine our future.
  2. Remember, things don’t change overnight – Things take time to work out. Be patient and work diligently for your desired outcome.
  3. Focus on the positive – Although the past is with us, it doesn’t have to haunt us. Focus on what matters today and tomorrow. Remember, yesterday ended last night, focus on today in preparation for tomorrow.
  4. Continue self-growth – When difficult or trying times hit, it is a perfect time to take personal inventory and determine where you need to grow.  Spend time becoming a better you. Physically, mentally and spiritually. You can GROW or GROAN. However, I don’t think the latter will get you much.
  5. Consider all options – Take time to consider your options. Maybe it is time for a career change, or to downsize in your home, vehicles, etc. Whatever it may be, remain open and ready to take initiative.
  6. Serve others – As difficult times come upon us, look for ways to help others succeed. In fact, this is an excellent time to move the situation away from you. Serving others creates a heart of gratitude and gives us the opportunity to meet the needs of others.
  7. Consider the big picture – Remember that everything happens for a reason. You may be the reason you have fallen on difficult times. Whatever the reason, maintain a big picture point of view. Consider your current situation and look for opportunities to achieve your future desires and goals. Never a better time than the present to begin a new road to the future.
  8. Embrace change head-on – Change. I LOVE IT! Many hate it, fight it and despise it. Become a person who embraces change. Consider the many opportunities change presents and capitalize on them. Remember, the only thing constant in life is….change.
  9. Never give up – Whatever you do, don’t give up and don’t settle. Too many give in too quickly. Continue to push through the muck and mud, and you will be victorious!
  10. Pray and stay in the Word – During difficult times, it’s important to understand where your strength comes from. I  believe one must stay connected to God through prayer and reading His Word, the Bible.

These 10 ways help me maintain my motivation during the difficult times. I believe one or all can help you do the same. Remember that difficult times affect us all. No one escapes the difficult times in life. However, the way we handle and react in those times determines our success or failure.

When you remain motivated, others see how well you adapt and handle the situation and will allow you to influence them. Tim Tebow said, “I’ll always use the negative as more motivation to work even harder and become even stronger.” Use the difficult times to become a better and stronger person.

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Self-Leadership, My Most Difficult Challenge

businesswoman hands holding sign find your way text messageWhy is leading myself more difficult than leading others? I ask myself this question EVERY SINGLE day!

Why do I say or do things I know are wrong (there is a biblical reference here)? It happens at home, work, with my wife, with my co-workers and those I love and lead.

The answer is simple. There are areas I don’t see until they sprout up. In fact, I believe there are times I don’t see myself from a realistic point. I see myself from my intentions, AND others see me through my actions and words.  I should probably also admit that I see my intentions from the training and talks I give.

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While I speak of myself, I am sure I’m not alone.  But how does one address this issue? Answer, look for the blind spots and deal with them! However, how do we identify the blind spots?  I look personally to three source for my self-leadership:

  1. Scripture
  2. My wife
  3. Co-workers and staff

These sources provide direct and/or indirect insights to the areas I need to change or improve.  With this information, I can apply these five principles.

  1. Control Emotions –  Like anyone else, leaders have  emotions.  In fact, I believe a leader’s emotions can be more powerful due to the passion and desire for success they possess.  However, a good leader knows how to control their emotions and display or delay them based on the situation.
  2. Meditate – Leaders are achievers.  And that means they hit the ground running, which leaves little time to stop and think.  Spend 30-45 minutes every morning mediating on the things that matter and planning your day.
  3. Focus Your Effort Where it Matters– A good leader wants to achieve more.  They are never satisfied with their achievements. For me, I tend to want to fix everything and solve everyone’s problems. However, to be effective we must learn to focus our efforts on what really matters.  I heard John Maxwell say, ” You can’t be 100% all the time.” I find that statement very true.  We must identify the times and events where we need to be 100% .  Everything else gets a good effort,  just not our best.
  4. Serve Others – Zig Ziggler said, You can have everything in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”  I am finding this to be very true.  Not from a selfish perspective, but simply from putting others first in every action or decision. Throughout my career, I have seen and reaped the benefits of putting others first by gaining their respect, commitment and dedication.  I simply look at it as, “you reap what you sow.”
  5. Get a Coach and/or Mentor – We all need to keep our minds sharp and our thoughts and ideas flowing freely.  Our minds can freeze or we experience those “blind spots” that throw us for a loop.  As a Coach and Mentor, I see the benefit from asking stimulating questions and the ability to seek wisdom and advice from others. I personally have at least five mentors that I can rely on for helping to address questions or walk me through situations.  I sleep better knowing I have access to these individuals.  I also can call several coaching colleagues for encouragement and guidance when needed.

Take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of your self-leadership to these five principles. Then establish a process where you consistently work to apply these principles and improve where needed.

A leader’s greatest challenge and most difficult task, is self-leadership. If you lead yourself correctly, you will influence others and they will follow.  Failure to manage your self-leadership will create a loss of respect and the inability to influence, causing people to leave and follow others.

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READY, FIRE, AIM, The Initiative Concept for Leadership Abundance and Success

Ready Fire AimIf you know what to do, then just do it!  I could probably stop right there and have the shortest blog I’ve ever written.  But that would be boring.

As a leader, one of the most frustrating things is to have someone on my team not take the initiative to make things happen.  Instead they sit back and wait for direction, or constantly need my approval that their path or ideas are right.

I want people that are willing to take risks, learn from their mistakes and accomplish what they never thought could be done.  I encourage and expect my staff to embrace the idea of READY, FIRE, AIM!  A concept I learned years ago and I have refined recently.

Let me break the term down:

  • READY – Identify what needs to be accomplished and evaluate what it takes to fully and completely accomplish the task or idea.
  • FIRE – Go do it!  Don’t wait.  Be the swoosh in NIKE and “Just Do It.”  For my inner circle, there are very few times where this concept wouldn’t apply.
  • AIM – Once you “Do It”, then tweek as needed.  If you did your due diligence in the READY phase, there should be very little need to correct things.

These three simple words can create extreme success in your leadership and success in the workplace.

Here are three examples of people who embraced the concept of READY, FIRE, AIM:

  1. Elon Musk – When you make millions off of an internet company like PayPal, the world generally expects you to, well, create and make more millions off of another internet company. But Elon Musk’s dreams lay elsewhere: Rather than follow a more conventional career path, Musk took the money he had made at PayPal and invested it in two of his own highly innovative startups, SpaceX and Tesla. Though his attempt at operating these two ventures at once nearly sent both companies into bankruptcy, it seems to have ultimately paid off—today, both SpaceX and Tesla thrive.
  2. Sylvester Stallone – With a baby on the way and too little money to pay the rent on his Hollywood apartment, Sylvester Stallone sat down and wrote the screenplay for Rocky in less than four days. Producers loved it and offered him big bucks to bring the story to life—but Stallone, as down-and-out as he was, refused to take any offer if he wasn’t allowed to play the lead role in the film.  Rocky ultimately ended up pulling in millions of dollars and skyrocketing Sly into fame.
  3. Travis Kalanick: Uber – Travis is a great example of Ready, Fire, Aim.  If he become discouraged with failure, Uber wouldn’t exist.  Founded the company Scour Inc., a multimedia search engine, and Scour Exchange, a peer-to-peer file sharing service. Two years later, the company would come under fire from several big name music and film agencies for copyright infringement, forcing Scour to eventually succumb to bankruptcy.  In 2007, Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded Uber. After facing some early competition and funding concerns, the ridesharing app is now the most widely used app of its kind. Kalanick created three companies; one failed, but that did not stop him from taking the risk.

Taking initiative is an important part of most any job and is critical to increasing your influence and ultimately your leadership.  However, the reality is that not many of us will not end up as successful as Elton, Sylvester or Travis.  But I can say people who take initiative, are people I want in my inner circle.  And I bet that is the way many leaders feel.

I agree with Conrad Hilton said, “Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful people keep moving,.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” 

Don’t keep talking about it, just “DO IT.”

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