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 He is an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, 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.

Managing Work/Life Balance

 

o-WORKLIFE-BALANCEI recently began a new job. Yes, I said a new job. The last two years have been very challenging, but that is a topic for a future blog. Man, I wish I could keep a job like I keep my wife (we’ve been married for 32 years).

With a new job comes the need to re-balance the commitment to work with the commitment to life. That takes a lot of effort. Let’s face it, a new job not only takes a lot of effort to build relationships, learn the job and become familiar with the organization, but it creates a desire to make a great first impression.

However, our personal life is the most important. Whether you are married, dating or simply just like your alone time, work-life balance is essential to your physical and mental health.

As leaders, we want to set the pace and set the expectation. If you are a true leader, the best way to do that is to exceed your own expectations. I find many leaders do this by coming to the office early and staying late. In fact, if I come to the office and someone is already there, I find myself questioning my commitment and leadership. Even though I know better, I will fall into this thought process sometimes.

I think the challenge of work-life balance is one of perspective and mindset. I heard someone say,

In order to change the way we work, we must change the way we think.”

I agree, to achieve balance we must think like the leader we are and not the doer we want to be.

I’ve heard it said that being “busy” is the badge of honor among leaders.”
I used to model that saying. However, I realize I was merely wasting time. There is a time within the end of a day (for me about 9-10 hrs) where my concentration and focus lacks. I only exist at the office to create a perception. Longer days don’t generate accomplishments.

As a leader, here is what is needed to create a fair work-life balance:

  1. Make a list of things you need to do. And make a list of things you want to do. Create a combined list based on both “need” and “want.” This will generate a desire to accomplish both while creating a more enjoyable work environment.
  2. Identify your priorities each day. Priorities change, so it is essential to take time in the morning, and afternoon to re-evaluate and make adjustments.
  3. Schedule time in the early morning to give you an opportunity to achieve items on your priority list before people start interrupting.
  4. Look for ways or opportunities to overlap projects.
  5. Limit emails, answering calls or checking voice mail.  Set aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to answer emails and voicemails. In fact, I have a code for my staff and family. If there is an emergency or critical situations, they are instructed to use the code, and I will immediately answer.
  6. Assign appropriate roles and responsibilities to your staff. This will reduce your workload and free up time to accomplish your priorities.
  7. Trust your team. Some of you will say this is easier said than done. If that is the case, I suggest you reevaluate your team members. Give them a challenge and the freedom to perform and succeed. I use the approach of “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Meaning I let them do what they do, and we course correct as needed.
  8. Learn to say NO! It’s ok to say no. People will respect you more when you do. When we figure this out, we free up time to accomplish other things and spend more time with family or taking care of ourselves.

Creating a healthy work-life balance doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment and persistence every day. However, seasons do come and go. There will be situations where the balance is off, however, be persistent in trying to maintain and create the balance because a good work-life balance will create a better you and stronger relationships.

balance

 

PERSONALITY BASED GOAL SETTING

Our personality impacts everything we do; how we respond to pressure, how we network, socialize, and react when there is an emergency. Our personality is something that we cannot escape. When I reflect upon those who are successful, I see bold individuals who are assured within. They know what they are good at and they maximize upon those strengths. Successful people, regardless of their industry, are always boldly self-aware.

With the beginning of 2019, the New Year provides us with an opportunity to build upon the experiences and lessons learned from the previous year. I don’t believe we ever truly start over, instead; we build upon our achievements and/or the lessons learned from past failures and shortfalls. In retrospect, one of the things I’ve gleaned over the past couple of years is that our personality identifies our strengths and weaknesses. It directly affects our ability to achieve our goals and meet our objectives.

As a DISC Behavioral Consultant, I’ve learned to identify personality types through consultation, and help others develop goals that coincide with their character. In doing so, individuals maximize their opportunity for achievement.

These 3 actions will help individuals streamline their personal goals:

  • Tailor your conversation based on personality traits. This gives you the ability to make adjustments within the discussion to lead the path forward.
  • Generate goals that motivate the person to put in the necessary effort to achieve each one.
  • Identify areas to stretch the individual and achieve things that will take a focused effort.

By successfully implementing these 3 things into the development of goals, I believe we give people the ability to be successful and achieve more than they might expect.

So how do we set goals based upon a person’s personality? To answer this question, I will identify methods that reflect the DISC personality styles in general. I’ll use the behavioral traits and the typical strengths and weaknesses of each personality style. Let’s take a look at how to set goals for each personality style.

Dominant

People with dominant personalities are direct, decisive, problem solvers, risk takers, and self-starters. People with a strong dominant personality are hard-charging, get-it-done kind of people! I identify with this particular personality type. I tend to set very ambitious, lofty goals. However, if I don’t see immediate results, I’ll quickly lose motivation.

People you identify as having a dominant personality need to have goals that meet the following parameters;

  • Identify a few more than required. If you want 3-5 goals, a dominant person will set 7-10.
  • Make the majority of the goals short-term. This serves as motivation to accomplish many things.
  • Set a couple of long-term goals with the expectation to endure until the end.
  • Each goal must be clearly identified and the timeline for completion well established.
  • Establish regular one-on-one follow-ups and progress meetings.

When developing goals for a dominant personality consider the following:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Autocratic in teams and will rise to the top in a crisis
  2. Good at providing direction and leadership
  3. High assertiveness
  4. They have a clear idea of their ambitions and goals and will push hard for accomplishment
  5. Function well with heavy workloads
  6. Very competitive attitude
  7. Welcomes new challenges
  8. Tend to follow their own ideas

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. LEARN TO LISTEN MORE AND SPEAK LESS
  2. Gather consensus on decisions
  3. Don’t act alone
  4. Learn to answer the question “why” when asked about decisions and proposals
  5. Work on body language and tone of voice when dealing with frustration
  6. Focus on developing sincere personal relationships
  7. Can intimidate others
Influential

People with an influential personality are enthusiastic, trusting, optimistic, persuasive, talkative, impulsive and emotional. They are just pure FUN! They are the life of the party and are typically the ones we talk about after the Christmas party. They love to set goals and dream about the things they want to achieve.

These fun-loving social characters need to have goals that meet the following parameters:

  • Harness their enthusiasm when identifying goals
  • Identify goals that will move the company forward and acknowledge their value
  • Clearly define the steps to achieve each goal and have them focus on each stage before moving onto the next
  • Set smaller goals
  • Identify the timeline for each goal
  • Prioritize each goal for the company and the individual
  • Establish regular one-on-one meetings to verify progress and determine the next steps for successful performance

When developing goals for those with an influencing personality style, consider;

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Great communicators who are both influential and inspirational
  2. Have the ability to motivate others
  3. Great advocates of change and deal well with change themselves
  4. People are drawn to them, thus creating a great opportunity to lead others
  5. Positive attitude
  6. Great at brainstorming and visionary projects

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Impulsive in decision making
  2. Can be slow to action (a lot of talk, but little action)
  3. Need to exercise control over actions, words, and emotions
  4. Need to talk less and listen more
  5. Tends to over-promise
Steady

The steady personalities are good listeners, team players, possessive, steady and predictable. They are understanding and friendly relationship-based people. Goal setting usually means change is coming, which immediately causes tension for a steady personality—because they don’t like change.

If you see yourself as a person with a steady personality or will be working to set goals with someone described above, consider:

  • Goals that establish step by step directions with a clearly defined plan for achievement
  • Establish the benefit for achieving each goal
  • Needs more time to develop their goals
  • Set timelines for each goal and hold them to it

Consider the following when developing goals for the person with a steady personality:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Supportive and natural relationship builders
  2. Grounded in reality and common sense
  3. Talented multi-taskers
  4. Patient
  5. Loyal
  6. Even-tempered
  7. Peacemakers in groups and teams

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Struggles with change and making adjustments
  2. Can be overly agreeable
  3. Tends to put other’s needs before theirs
  4. Need to be more direct in their interactions with others
  5. Their pace tends to be slow, thus causing them to miss deadlines
Compliant

A person with a compliant personality is accurate, analytical, conscientious, careful, precise, meticulous and systematic.  Those with a complaint personality are very focused on procedure and making sure things are done the right way. They don’t have a problem with setting goals, but they do need help prioritizing. A compliant personality wants to accomplish EVERYTHING!

To set effective goals, a person with a compliant personality must consider:

  • Start the process early!
  • Focusing on goals that are important to YOU!
  • Ensure each goal is practical and detailed
  • Create clear, identifiable goals that establish their role within the group, department, and organization
  • Establish data-driven goals that focus on details others may not see
  • Stretch the person by developing one or two visionary goals

As you consider developing goals for the compliant personality, consider the following:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Instinctive organizers
  2. Excellent at creating and maintaining systems and processes
  3. Consistent in their approach
  4. Will see projects through until completion
  5. Strive for a diplomatic approach
  6. Strive for a group and team consensus

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Tend to be critical of others
  2. Consider other’s ideas and methods
  3. Need to speed up to help the team or group accomplish their goals
  4. Work on focusing more on building strong relationships
  5. Make faster-informed decisions
  6. Take more risks

Final Thoughts

Each one of us has a unique personality style. Sure, we can put people in “personality” buckets, but that only helps to identify our approach. As leaders, we must know our coworkers and ourselves well enough to understand what motivates them and how they react to different situations. Knowing a person’s personality style can proactively help you and your employees make adjustments. Consider the information presented and strive to achieve your personal best and the best from your employees in 2019!

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, 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, training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

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.

self-lead 2.jpg

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.

self-lead 1.jpeg

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.”

swoosh

Can’t We All Just Get Along? 6 Principles to Solving Conflict

Look conflict is noEmotional discussiont fun, it’s not pleasant and quiet frankly it  becomes frustrating and irritating.  However, conflict is inevitable and it’s actually crucial for success. Without conflict, one continues on a path of mediocre performance.  However, if  we address the conflict, the clash of ideas, positions and personal preferences can become fuel for change, innovative thinking and thought provoking new ideas. Unresolved conflict will destroy personal relationships and create a division within an organization or team.

John C. Maxwell said; “People naturally see themselves in the light of their intentions, but they measure others according to their actions.”  Man that was me.  I use to avoid conflict all cost. Well that’s probably not entirely true.  I think it would be more accurate to say, that I use to instigate conflict when I could.

Most leaders don’t respond well to conflict.  In fact, I believe most leaders will avoid it and choose the easiest, rather than the most effective way to handle it.  In John Maxwell’s Guide to Managing Conflict”, he listed six typical responses to conflict.  I found these to be right on, so I want to share them with you.  How many have you used?  Personally, I used all six at some time in my personal life or professional career.

  1. Win at all costs.  It’s like a shootout at the OK Corral. It’s quick, brutal, and destructive.
  2. Pretend it doesn’t exist.  Even if they hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil, evil will still exist. It will simply grow unsupervised.
  3. Whine about it. Playing the victim doesn’t cure conflict. It just irritates everybody on the team.
  4. Keep score. People who keep a record of wrongs can never start fresh. And nobody can ever truly get “even.”
  5. Pull rank. Using position never really solves conflict. It merely postpones it.
  6. White flag it. Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

But, how can we address conflict and avoid these failed responses?  First, I think you have to truly care about the conflict, reason for the conflict and the person you have a conflict with. Second, we need to fully understand and comprehend the facts surrounding the reason for conflict.  Once we show we care, indicate we fully understand the facts surrounding the situation and we are prepared to approach a resolution from a humble perspective, then I believe you can effective solve the conflict.  How?  By fully implementing and following the 6 principles listed below.  Again, these were taken from John’s “Guide to Managing Conflict”;

  1. Confront a person only if you care about that person. It is more productive to go into a confrontation keeping the other person’s interests in mind.
  2. Meet together as soon as possible. When conflict arises, human nature is inclined to avoid it and procrastinate regarding resolution. The reality is, that by putting off confrontation, the situation can only deteriorate further.  Get together face-to-face.
  3. First seek understanding, not necessarily agreement. The person who gives an opinion before he or she understands is human, but the person who gives a judgment before he or she understands is a fool. The truth is, you cannot reach understanding if your focus is on yourself.
  4. Outline the issue. Be positive, describe your perceptions, state how this situation makes you feel, and explain why this is important to you. Engaging in this process without emotional heat or bitterness is essential.
  5. Encourage a response. Try to build a dialogue – be sure to let the other person talk while you actively listen. Maxwell talks about the following observations when confronting people:
    • 50% of the time people don’t realize there’s a problem.
    • 30% of the time they realize there’s a problem, but they don’t know how to solve it.
    • 20% of the time they recognize the problem and don’t want to fix it.
    • A solution can be had 80% of the time merely by engaging and seeking a response.
  6. Agree to an action plan. Be sure the plan clearly identifies the issue and spells out concrete steps that will be taken. The action plan should include a commitment by both parties to put the issue to rest once resolved.

Learn to identify the potential conflict and make adjustments in your approach, thinking Fight, two fists hitting each other over dramatic skyand desires.  However, if conflict occurs, then it must be addressed.  Following the 6 principles above will help ensure the conflict is fully, effectively and completely resolved.  Dealing with conflict won’t hurt relationships, in fact it strengthens the bond between people and teams.

John C. Maxwell said, “Successful confrontation usually changes both people, not just one.”  I agree.  Every conflict that I have effectively solved has made me a better leader.  I encourage you to resolve conflict quickly.  Don’t let it build!

 

 

BECOME A LEADER WHO INFLUENCES THE INFLUENCERS

To be an effective leader we must influence.  We’ve all seen John Maxwell’s quote, “Leadership is Influence, Nothing More, Nothing Less.”  People who can influence can lead.  But how does one become a leader of leaders?  The obvious answer is to influence the influencers.

Balancing a team leader with a great team. A team of three executives stands on a balance where the counterweight is a great team leader.

How do you influence the influencers?  It begins by identifying your strengths and weaknesses and making adjustments as necessary. In addition to your basic influence, you increase your influence on the influencers by;

  1. Being fully in the game – Follow and align with the organizations vision and goals, regardless of what you think.  Influencing the influencers; means being a team player. Remember; Power comes to those who live under authority.
  2. Use your strengths to help others succeed – Les Brown said, “help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”  Influencing the influencers; means remembering there are others that need your help.
  3. Ask for feedback – How can you exceed expectations if you don’t know if you are meeting expectations. Influencing the influencers; means knowing how to exceed expectations.
  4. Just Do it – My favorite saying, “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, show me what you’ve done!”  Influencing the influencers; requires achieving more than others and doing it better.
  5. Ready, Fire, Aim – Do what you need to do to, to accomplish what you need to accomplish.  Remember the saying ,“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” Influencing the influencers; means being first, because first always wins!
  6. ALWAYS see the bigger picture through the weeds – Sanford I. Weill said, “The details create the big picture.”  Influencing the influencers; means seeing the big picture in all circumstances.
  7. Give second chances – We all make mistakes, some more than others (talking about myself).  Influencing the influencers; requires recognizing we all make mistakes and helping others become successful.
  8. Hold yourself and others to high standards – My staff knows this principle well.  If we can’t exceed expectations, how can we expect others to do the same. Only those who think great, become great!  Influencing the influencers; means doing it better all the time, every time.
  9. Ask good questions – Become good at asking questions.  “Answers inform, questions transform”, John Maxwell.  Influencing the influencers; means having the answers before everyone else does.
  10. Be persistent – Don’t give up, EVER!  Don’t stop until you accomplish what you set out to achieve and then achieve more!  Influencing the influencers; requires persistence in the things that matter.
  11. Be consistent – Avoid impulsive decisions and think before you speak.  Influencing the influencers; requires consistency in our actions and behaviors.
  12. Call out the elephant in the room – The Old English used a term, “There it is”.  It was used when calling out the obvious or ridiculous in something or someone.  Not addressing an obvious issue is passing up a chance to influence and more than  likely being viewed as intimidated.  Influencing the influencers; requires guts and courage.
  13. Assemble an inner circle that believes in the vision – John Maxwell said, “A leaders potential is determined by those closest to him/her.”  Influencing the influencers; requires exceptional influence from you and your entire team.
  14. Be direct, but respectful –  It’s important to speak your mind when the timing is right.  However, be respectful in all conversations.  Influencing the influencers; requires people with the audacity to get to the point and do it respectfully.   
  15. Admit your mistakes and fix them – No need for excuses, just admit the wrong doing and make it right.  Influencing the influencers; requires humility, not arrogance.
  16. Seek wisdom from the wise and obtain knowledge from those who have walked before you –  Some know the way because of the wisdom they posses.  Some know the way, because of the experiences they’ve experienced.  Influencing the influencers; requires seeking counsel and advice when needed.Leader speaking / 3D render image representing an leader speaking in front of a crowd

Those who influence the influencers, are those who influence those who have influence. In other words, to lead leaders, you must influence those who lead others.  Do what you do well and lead those you lead with conviction and passion and you will find yourself leading leaders.

2017 GOALS, blah, blah, blah……

As 2017 swings into full gear, I’ve slowly been thinking about what I need to have as my professional and personal goals. My staff and I created a strategic plan, I’ve had each of them create a list of achievable and measurable goals. But for me, well I just can’t seem to get the motivation to generate a list. When I think about it, all I hear in my head are different songs or I’m thinking about what I need to be doing.

Goals…Blah, blah, blah………

He faces difficulties

Then it hit me!

I recently identified four focus areas that apply to my professional and personal life. I thought, why not use them as my goals? So that is exactly what I did!

So for 2017, I don’t have any professional or personal goals, but rather I have four areas of focus!

MAINTAIN PERSISTENCE

Jim Rohn said, If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent you will keep it.” I tell professionals all the time, “in order to achieve behavior modification and ensure sustainable change, we must always be persistent in our expectations, regardless of who and what it is.”  It’s hard to be persistent everyday, every moment, every time. Some days, you simply want to act as if you never saw or heard it. However, persistence establishes expectations and I believe expectations will generate results. My focus is to be more persistent in what I believe is right. I won’t let personalities or politics dictate my actions, but rather find ways to persistently influence for performance.

BE MORE CONSISTENT

Bruce Lee said it so well, “Long term consistency, trumps short-term intensity.” Being consistent in what we do and how we do it, adds stability and expectation to those we lead. Employees need consistent leadership for consistent direction. When you integrate consistency into your life, you realize the reward comes as a result of a process. My focus is to show greater consistency in 2017. I’ll accomplish this by thinking before I speak, and not reacting to a situation. I want to be methodical in my decisions, interactions and actions. Consistency is essential to change and change is needed in my professional and personal life.

HAVE A GREATER SENSE OF URGENCY

Jim Rohn said, “Without a sense of urgency, desire losses its value.” When you know something has to be done, DO IT! A sense of urgency allows a person to accomplish more than others. When we realize our sense of urgency extends beyond our list of goals or projects, we generate results which create value. Value creates influence. When you can influence, you can lead anyone. The longer one waits to accomplish things, the less value one adds. I will accomplish more in 2017, in less time by having a greater sense of urgency to get more done, add more value and have more influence.

INCREASE MY PASSION

Zig Ziglar said, “Know your passion. Follow it. Dream it. Live it.”  I am constantly telling people, “ If you don’t love what you do, then go do something else.” Passion fuels results! It gives us purpose. It is what we believe in. It will turn your have-to’s into I want-to’s. Those with passion will be motivated to succeed, not settle. I have been told many times, that I am a passionate person. However, I want to increase my passion in 2017. I will do this by getting more excited, more engaged, thinking of better ways to do things, get more emotional when I don’t get the results I expected, take more risk, and dream bigger!

There you have it my focus areas for 2017. I believe these four areas will allow me to accomplish more and do it better.

focus

Consider identifying focus areas. I heard it said, “Effective leaders keep one eye one the compass and one eye on the clock.”  Commit to more focus in 2017 and become a more efficient and effective leader.

Denis is a certified Executive/Business Coach, Trainer and Keynote Speaker and owner of Leader Influence LLC. Possessing over 28 years of leadership experience in multiple industries, Denis has cultivated a unique teaching, coaching and speaking style that resonates with participants and attendees.  
He is a passionate influencer committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques. His uniquely passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, planting a desire for change and to become a more effective leader.
Consider Denis for your leadership, personal development or team speaking, training or coaching needs.

 

 

TIPS TO GET BETTER AT SMALL TALK

Women drinking coffeeI recently published a blog titled, “8 Personal Habits That Will Ensure A Good First Impression.” Number 8 on that list was “Initiate Relevant Small Talk”.  I discuss the need for relevant small talk and how it can create a connection and lead to building a relationship.  Effective small talk can provide clues in providing a deeper understanding of that person.

Recently I came across an article titled; “15 Tips to Get Better at Small Talk”written by Patti Johnson with SUCCESS Online.

I wanted to share it with you as I found it to be a great companion article addressing the issue of small talk.

1. Get your mind right.

If you spend the week anticipating and worrying because you know you will feel uncomfortable, you’ve set yourself up for failure. Remember why you are going—to celebrate a friend on his or her special day, to meet others who share your interest or connect with your co-workers.

2. Decide who you’d like to meet before you go.

Take a look at who else will be there and plan to meet those who might share something in common. This might be someone who knows a mutual friend, a fellow baseball fan or a business owner living your dream.

3. Make a game out of it.

Trick your mind into making it seem easier and more fun. Commit to at least an hour. Plan to meet at least five people.   Challenge yourself to learn two new things  This mind shift can help tame the anxiety and make the conversation more fun.

4. Take responsibility for meeting others.

Don’t wait for others to approach you. Say hello first. When you expect others to make the first move, you’ll be disappointed. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.

5. Don’t be the sidekick.

Rather than being the shadow of the one person you already know, branch out.

6. Have your “go-to” questions ready.

Starting a conversation with a new person can be hard. Try, “How do you know _____?” “What is keeping you busy these days?” or “What brought you to this area?” It doesn’t have to be complicated, just something to get you started if you you’re new acquaintances.

7. Be interested. Listen more than you talk.

Asking questions is the secret ingredient to interesting conversations.  Stay away from yes/no questions. You can naturally start with easy questions that feel natural, but listen for an interesting comment to explore and build upon.

As an example for how your questions might flow:

  •  How do you know Allison?
  •  I didn’t realize you were a graphic designer. What kind of design do you do?
  •  Why did you decide to get into graphic design?
  •  Oh, I went to school in Miami, too! Where are your favorite places to go when you go back?
  •  Do you think of Miami as home? How did you make the move from there to here?

Within a few questions, you can move to more substance and a real conversation.

8. Be yourself!Business people discussing

No one likes the fake networker. In the interest of being more outgoing, don’t be someone you aren’t. Putting out effort doesn’t mean being fake.

9. Compliment and shift.

Find something that you can genuinely compliment the other person on and then shift to a question so it isn’t awkward.

10. Plan a graceful exit.

Every conversation runs its course, but a natural end is hard. Just say, “It’s been great to meet you, and I hope you have the best vacation next week.” Excuse yourself to do something else and move on.

11. Look for others who want to connect.

I recently went to a large celebration event and only knew the busy host. I noticed another guest taking her time at the snack table and introduced myself. We had a great conversation while those around us caught up with longtime friends.

12. Be an introducer.

If you are talking with someone and another guest looks a little uncomfortable, invite him or her into the conversation. Remember the times when you were that uncomfortable person and try to include others.

13. Don’t be the “hammer looking for the nail.”

Your favorite topic isn’t everyone else’s. You might love your new grill or your favorite book or TV show, but don’t assume everyone else is interested. Gauge the conversation and flow with it.

14. Don’t expect too much.

Not every get-together will result in new friends. That’s OK. You still accomplished your goal of going when it was easier not to—you were there supporting a friend or a co-worker. And that is enough.

15. Get in the habit.

Don’t constrain this habit to social events. Say hello to the person next to you on the plane before you grab your headphones (I’m working on this). Talk to your waiter. Ask your Uber driver about his day. The habit of saying hello and listening is a muscle you can develop by working on it every day.

Try some small talk. You might be surprised where it takes you.

8 PERSONAL HABITS THAT WILL ENSURE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION

Make a Good First Impression

“I’m not judging you!”  Yes you are.  Let’s face it, we all judge people to some degree.  It may be an internal thought or it may be a vocal expression of our thoughts.  Either way, we each have a seat at the judge’s bench.

 

The first 3-5 seconds of an initial encounter is sufficient time for a person to form an initial opinion.

We form these opinions through observing a person’s approach, body language, mannerisms, accent and the way they dress.

So how important are first impressions?  Well it determines if you get the second interview for your dream job or acceptance in the college or university of your choice.  A good first impression can mean a second date and who know what happens after that.  Making a good first impression gets you a meeting with the senior partners in the private equity firm evaluating your business proposal.  No doubt first impressions matter.

1. SMILE – “Your smile will give you a positive countenance that will make people feel comfortable around you.” Les Brown

A warm smile is a great start to a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. When I interview potential job candidates, the first thing I look for is a genuine smile.  It tells me the person is excited and eager for the chance.  However, any overuse of a smile will come off fake and insincere.

2. BE PRESENT – “As youngsters, my mother taught her children that while we might not be the smartest people around, we could be courteous, polite and considerate of others.” Zig Ziglar

Be attentive to the person or person(s).  Put down your phone and focus on the person and conversation in front of you. Give yourself 100 percent to that other person.  Anything less and you will ruin your chance for a good first impression.

3. BE ON TIME – “I’m on time even when I try not to be.” Diane Kruger

Meeting someone for the first time is not the time to be”fashionably late”.  Save that for your high society meetings and events. I always try to arrive a few minutes early.  Although, not too early.  You don’t want to come off overly eager.  Just remember that people are busy and their schedules are usually full.  One late appointment will affect the whole day’s schedule.  If you’ve ever gone to the Dr., you know what I’m talking about.  Being on time is a show of respect.  That goes a long way in making a good first impression.

4. BE YOURSELF – “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” Bruce Lee

People can smell a fake.  They know if you are authentic.  Being yourself allows you to be confident and at ease.  This can go a long way in making a good first impression.  However, you need to remain appropriate for the particular situation and express yourself appropriately.

5. SHOW CONFIDENT BODY LANGUAGE- “Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words.” Debora Bull

As the quote says above, about 80% of what we say is non-verbal.

A business handshakeStand confidently with your back erect and your shoulders square. Hands to your side and feet spread just inside both shoulders.  This is known as the Presidential Stance.  Greet each person with a firm (not hard) hand shake and make eye contact.  Be aware of your nervous habits and move slowly, smoothly and confidently. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both of you to feel at ease.

6. ASK SMART QUESTIONS THAT INDICATE YOUR’RE LISTENING- “There’’s a difference between listening passively and listening aggressively. To listen with your heart, you have to listen actively.” John C. Maxwell

Be an active listener.  The way you achieve this is by asking questions relevant to what the person is saying.  This indicates your engagement in the conversation.  Resist distraction and resist the temptation of putting yourself first.

7. SHOW SINCERE INTEREST IN PEOPLE – “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” John C. Maxwell

My wife and I went to one of those home improvement stores shopping for a refrigerator.  As we entered the appliance department, a sales person immediately approached and asked if he could help.  We excitedly replied “yes”, and said we are looking for a refrigerator.  As we began giving him our specifications, his phone rang and he immediately answered it!  Without any apology, he began talking and walked away.  The best way to show sincere interest in other people is to show them you care and that they are important and have something unique to offer.  A sincere interest in people will go a long way in making a good first impression.

8. INITIATIVE RELEVANT SMALL TALK – “I’m not great at small talk.” Courtney Cox

I think Courtney’s quote above is probably true of most people.  However, small talk is present in almost every first meeting and we must successfully push through it.  A person’s ability to maximize the content of small talk can provide very useful information in establishing a connection and a good first impression. Small talk can provide clues for relevant questions that initiate a deeper understanding of that person.  How many business deals are done based on attending the same college?  Small talk provides those small details that typically have big results!

CONCLUSION

Making a good impression is simply using common sense and being intuitively aware of the situation you are in. Develop these 8 habits and use them next time you meet someone for the first time.  It could be a life-changing event.