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.

EXCEED EXPECTATIONS, Your Break From Average

I recently spoke to a group of leaders with the American Society of Safety Engineers at their annual leadership Conference on this very topic.  This conference was a chance for Chapter Officers from around the world to come together and learn how to better serve their memberHand writing Expectations with marker, concept backgrounds.  This was especially significant as I currently serve as President of the Oklahoma City Chapter.  My goal was to encourage and motivate to do more than simply meet member expectations.

Expectations are a part of everything we do in our our personal and professional life.  We all grew up with certain expectations; complete your chores, do your homework, take a bath, brush your teeth, etc.  Parents, teachers, coaches and employers all have certain expectations.  If we meet those expectations, then people are happy.  If we don’t they are unhappy and there is usually an uncomfortable conversation that follows.

Look, expectations are a part of life.  There are just certain things people expect from us and we expect from others. Meeting expectations is what everyone strives for.  But, why be like everyone else?  If you can exceed expectations, you can separate yourself from others and standout from the crowd.

Let me share a story with you.

It was a Friday afternoon and I hadn’t been home in almost two weeks. I was at the airport waiting on a flight to Dallas. It was stormy throughout the western United States, but I was flying from Boston so I didn’t think anything of it.  As I checked the monitor, I noticed my flight had been delayed 45 minutes.  I was annoyed, but that is how it goes sometimes, right?   Well those 45 minutes turned into another 45 minutes, then 3 hrs. NOW, I wasn’t only annoyed but mad! And SO WAS EVERYONE ELSE AT THE GATE!

However, after a few minutes of complaining and multiple very loud sighs, something starting to happen at the gate.  Airline workers started handing out drinks and snacks.   I noticed a slight shift in the mood, including myself.  I could actually hear some laughs and positive comments.

Well, after what seemed like a fairly short time, it was finally time to get on the plane and head south. The mood turned even better when the Flight Attendant announced that we would be receiving free drinks due to the delay. SWEET!!!!!

The plane was buzzing a little louder (I felt like I was on a flight to Las Vegas with a bachelorette party or something) and the mood seemed a lot more cheerful. People seemed happy and the flight went very quickly. Before I knew it we were landing in Dallas.

So let me ask you a question.  Do you think the airline met or exceeded my expectations?

Well of course they EXCEEDED my expectations!  We arrived at our destination safely. And we were given special treatment for the inconvenience.

By the airline becoming situationally aware with the passenger’s disappointment and recognizing the importance of home and family, they wanted to do something to exceed passenger expectations.  Sure they didn’t meet the initial on time expectation, but rather than sitting around dealing with the multiple complaints, they recognized the situation and quickly did what they could to accommodate in whatever way made sense.

As I grow in my personal and professional leadership, I realize everyone wants to meet expectations.  People work very hard to meet expectations and simply getting by.  However, that creates a bottleneck to performance and ultimately slows a person’s promotional and career advancement.

To excel in one’s personal and professional efforts, there must be something which separates them from others.  They must stand out.  Their work and effort must be above others.  It is easy to blend into the crowd and be average.   However, for those who want to advance and achieve something more than average, they must exceed expectations.  Average doesn’t get you into the MLB, NFL or NBA.  It doesn’t get you a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  In fact, average will not get your resume past most employers initial screening and it certainly won’t get you past the initial interview.

So how does someone exceed expectations?  I’m glad you asked that question.  I have some tips and insights that create a mindset to exceed expectations.  These are activities, expectations and insights I personally use when evaluating the expectations others have for me and I have for myself.

Read and reflect on these and put them in context to your specific needs, desires and situation.  I think you will find these useful and effective.

9 Personal Insights about expectations:

  1. I realize disappointment is simply the gap between expectations and reality-Learn to recognize this and take action early to prevent any gaps.
  2. I consistently strive to exceed expectations and impress every time, through everything I do – Regardless of what I gain.
  3. I realize the only person that can raise my standard of expectations is………….ME! Always strive to exceed expectations.
  4. I expect more from myself than others expect from me – I am never satisfied with yesterday!
  5. I realize it is impossible to offer excuses and still exceed expectation – Excuses deteriorate respect and stop you in your tracks!
  6. I realize focusing is the single-most important skill in exceeding expectations.  Learn to focus and learn what it takes to stay focused even when their are distractions.
  7. Did you know only 2% of people consistently exceed expectations–  80% don’t meet expectations.
  8. Meeting expectations is average – If you want to be average, do something else and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
  9. You are never going to be excellent in your weaknesses – No matter how hard you work. Exceed expectations where you know you are good.

10 Thoughts, Tips and Actions that will help you EXCEEED EXPECTATIONS:

  1. Expect more from yourself than anyone else – Integrity begins with you.
  2. Refuse to live off the past – Yesterday ended last night, Get Over It!  However, never be satisfied with yesterday.
  3. Don’t use your relationships to cover your failures or shortcomings “We’re Friends” is abused!
  4. RESPECT must be earned DAILY!!! – Earn respect by doing the difficult right things
  5. Ask for feedback , all the time and after every activity- If you are good, feedback will improve you, if you are bad, feedback will make you better.
  6. I only travel the high road with others – IN BUSINESS IT MIGHT NOT MAKE SENSE, BUT IN LIFE IT MEANS EVERYTHING
  7. I give 100% at key times everyday – What are the events, people that require my best?
  8. I value people too much to not give them my best- Character, People, Perspective, Attitude and Passion Matter
  9. I exceed expectations because I bring people around me who exceed expectations My performance increases as I surround myself with those who exceed expectations.

I heard John Maxwell tell a story about his grandson, Troy. Troy had recently graduated from college and quickly got his first job.   As they were having lunch one day, John asked Troy if he knew how to set himself apart from the rest of the employees. Troy simply shrugged his shoulders.  John said;

“you have to do something quickly to set your self apart from the rest of the employees, otherwise you will just be another employee.”

Here is what John told Troy to do:

  1. You must work harder than everyone else – come in early and stay late. Eat in for lunch most times.
  2. Do something for somebody that is not your job.  Make a point to do something for someone everyday that is not your job.
  3. Make an appointment with your leader (boss) and thank him/her for your job. Express gratitude and humility.

I’d say these three things will exceed everyone’s expectations.Exceeding expectations will set you apart from everyone else. That opens the door for a bright and successful future.

DON’T BE AVERAGE………AVERAGE IS BORING!!!  STRIVE TO EXCEED EXPECTATIONS IN EVERYTHING YOU DO!

Exceed to Succeed Extra Credit Above and Beyond Ruler

REALLY, YOU LEAD PEOPLE?

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I read an article the other day that touched on leadership behavior.  It sparked an abundance of memories, thoughts and questions that have rolled around in my head for many years.  Quite frankly it made me look deep inside of my soul and check my heart to ensure my actions and motives line up with my moral convictions.

Look, leaders are people.  In fact, many are good people.  There is a very small percentage of leaders that act and behave poorly.  I feel I’ve probably worked for more than most.  My career has been full of poor leaders.  Heck, there are a lot of my past and present employees that might say the same about me.

The whole reason I began my leadership journey was to do everything I could NOT to make the same mistakes or do the same things I have witnessed or gone through.

Through my experience, I have identified 9 things that define poor leaders.  Here they are;

  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUNo it isn’t!  In fact, we probably don’t About.me_iconcare what you did or where you went.  It is about those you lead.  When every conversation and situation is about you, it limits the interaction and contribution of others.  I’ve had many leaders more concerned about how situations affect them, than the one(s) involved or affected.
  2. HEY BUDDY -Considering those you lead as friends.  Not good. Leadership is about relationships, not friendships.  When friends and buddies don’t perform we tend to “sweep” it under the rug or make excuses, rather than hold them accountable.  This creates descension and frustration with other employees.  Build relationships, not friendships.  I’ve seen many leaders lose credibility over the hiring or advancement of friends or relatives many times.  I am not saying you can’t hire employees from the past or those who supported and assisted you at other jobs.  I was the best man at my Director of EHS’ wedding 29 years ago.  However, I bet he will tell you that he is held to the same accountability level as anyone else.  In fact, I expect more out of him, than most.
  3. HORRIBLE LISTENER blah, blah, blah…….  This leader doesn’t care what you have to say.  They are only concerned with what’s coming out of his mouth.  Their EGO gets in the way.  Hey man, you were given 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.  You need to listen twice as much as you talk.  Give people a chance to say something.  Who knows, what they have to say might solve the problem.
  4. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? -Poor communicators can reduce and harm aculture and frustrate employees quickly. Many employees complain about the lack of communication from leadership.  What are my expectations, Fotosearch_k10378786How is the company performing?, Will there be raises or bonuses this year?  As I coach leaders, I encourage them to have weekly or monthly communication meetings.  This is a time where all they do is communicate key information and allow employees an opportunity to ask questions.
  5. DON’T TEXT ME -Technology is great, but technology has created a diminishing environment of face to face communication.  How many times have you received a text or email and interrupted it as negative?  Texting and emails are very difficult to communicate a tone.  A face to face visit is the best way to properly communicate.  I can see your facial expressions and body language and I can react or change my tone or words to ensure effective communication.  If you can’t meet face to face, call them, and don’t leave a voice mail to cover your items.
  6. REALLY?Hear’s a thought……Get both sides of the story before you make a decision.  One of the most frustrating things for employees is when a leader makes decisions based on a one sided conversation.  One of the traits of a leader is to be open and accessible.
    However, that doesn’t mean you base your decisions on the conversations of one individual.  I found many times, my accessibility and openness has allowed individuals to voice their displeasure with a supervisor, rule or practice only to find out in my follow-up conversation the individual was disciplined or held accountable for failure to comply with or follow directions, etc.
  7. THAT WILL NEVER WORKBeing cynical is not a trait of a leader.  In fact, it is totally opposite.  I think cynical leaders feel threatened. They must discount or even put down a person’s ideas because they feel as if they are not a leader if they don’t have Fotosearch_k5253244the answer.  Cynical leaders say; “No, that’s not going to work” or, “I don’t know why we are doing this; this is stupid.”  Look, if something is stupid, then the leader needs to fix it.  If something is not worth doing or is going to create major problems, it’s your responsibility to facilitate other ideas.  Regardless, you must thank and encourage those who offer ideas and opinions, not BELITTLE them!
  8. THAT’S DISGUSTING! Just because you can say it, doesn’t make it right.  Foul language is wrong and unprofessional.   For some reason, leaders feel they have the right to use foul language and tell questionable stories in front of their staff or employees.  I recently had a leader use very disgusting language in reference to a football game. It stunned the group.  No one knew how to react.  I have had several occasions where leaders would use foul language in an email or text.  Regardless of the communication, it is WRONG!  Some have told me, “you have to talk in the language of the industry”. What?  Come on man!!  If that is the case, then we need to clean up the industry!  It doesn’t matter if you are playing, it is your normal language or if you are angry, foul language is wrong, no matter what!  Whether it’s anger, disgust or this is how you talk to your friends, you can’t bring it to the office.
    I can tell if a person has leadership qualities by the way they talk to others.
  9. YOU CROSSED THE LINE!Leaders who compromise their integrity for business or profits are FOOLS!   A lack of integrity from leaders doesn’t just annoy employees, it appalls them. In fact, when a leader shows a lack of integrity, employees become de-motivated.  When a boss breaks or fudges the rules, cheats, lies or indulges in behaviors that reveal a lack of moral principles, he loses respect. images7-220x147 respect, you can’t influence.  If you can’t influence, you can’t lead.  In addition, when a leader lacks integrity, he gives employees permission to do the same.  I’ve seen leaders compromise their integrity and moral values to be validated by others.  I have personally seen this take place and the destruction it causes.  A true leader will never comprise their moral integrity for validations.

Being a leader is about doing the right thing and leading by example. You simply cannot have one standard for yourself and one for everyone else. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

If some of these sound familiar, then do something to correct them immediately.  The longer you continue the easier it is to continue.

A YEAR IN REVIEW. My Reflective Evaluation of 2015


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2015 is coming to a close and 2016 is quickly approaching.  For me personally…the end of 2015 can’t come soon enough.  However, 2015 was a year of growth for me.  I was challenged with decisions and actions.  I was challenged personally and professionally.  Let me share the highlights;

2015 CHALLENGES

  • I made a temporary job change in January.  I left my current job and took another (see blog post, “CEO For A Week”) for 8 days.  Realizing that was a mistake, I returned back to my current position.  However, that put me behind and I played “catch up” all year.  I had to repair and rebuild relationships.  I definitely took several steps back.
  • We had 2 serious injuries in the 1st Quarter.  For the first time in 18 months, I had two employees seriously injured.  As a Safety Professional, that is not what you want to see.
  • The overall oil and gas business suffered and we had to make some cuts within the organization.
  • I had to make a very difficult decision and lay-off one of my EHSS Representatives.  That created a void that had to be filled by myself and others.
  • My daughter lost her first baby; meaning my wife and I lost our first grand baby.  Many tears were shed and many prayers and healing took place.th-49
  • My mother had triple by-pass while my father suffered multiple respiratory issues. This required much attention and commitment from my wife and myself.

2015 SUCCESSES

  • I got back the job I loved so much.
  • After a very rough first quarter, the company went the remainder of the year (10 months) without any other serious injuries.  Our employees overcame and succeeded!
  • Our company continues to perform at a level greater than most of our competition.
  • My staff has stepped up and filled the void of our downsizing and we have accomplished more in 10 months than any of us expected!
  • We have increased our manufacturing capacity and reduced redundant quality issues.
  • My son-in-law and daughter moved to the OKC area!!  Great having them close to us.
  • My daughter is pregnant and I will be a GRANDFATHER in APRIL 2016!!!!
  • My mom has recovery nicely from her triple by-pass and is more active than she has been in 20 ears.  My 82 yr old father is healthy and continues to be active in retirement.
  • MY MOTHER-IN-LAW GOT MARRIED!!!! (you read what you want in the statement)
  • Marlene and I celebrated 29 years of marriage!!  I love the women so much and can’t imagine what I would do without her.
  • I increased my leadership through self-growth!
  • I was elected to the OK Safety Council Board of Directors and the Porches of Arbor Creek HOA Board of Directors.
  • I was Keynote Speaker at a record number of events and conducted a record number of leadership training.

Well you get the idea.  I hope I didn’t bore you.  Here is what I learned from this exercise.  Sure 2015 was a challenging year.  However, I realized that my SUCCESSES far outweighed my CHALLENGES.  Believe it or not, I just realized that by writing this blog.  I understand the frustrations and challenges we all have in life.  However, I have come to see that success will come.  Sometimes you just need to peel pack the layers to find them all.

REVIEW PROCESS

Alaska. Chugach Mts. Portage Glacier and Portage Lake, mountain reflection in water.

I conducted this year-end review by identifying my successes and challenges by “reflective evaluation”.  So, what does the term “reflective evaluation” mean ?  Reflective evaluation is self-created term I used to extract value from past experiences by knowing where we started, where we stand currently and where we want to go.

 

How did I achieve this?  By doing the following:

  1. I take time to reflect in a quiet place.  Usually at work or the hotel room before 6 am.
  2. I always include time in my daily routine to reflect on my personal and professional goals and objectives.  The month of December is when I will reflect and evaluate for the closing year.
  3. I look at what was achieved and where I fell short.  I list what was good and bad and positive and negative about each.  I AM TRUTHFUL and IT HURTS!
  4. I always fill in my personal goals and objectives as I work on and hopefully complete each one.  This allows me to easily evaluate my actions and what needs to be changed, modified or stretched.
  5. I look forward. I am always looking at how I can stretch my goals and the goals of those who work with me.  This allows me and my group to always look for opportunities to EXCEED evaluationEXPECTATIONS!

Be it very simple and plain, this is what I do in my reflective evaluation process.  It is very effective in producing a practical and accurate portrayal of my performance and/or the performance of my group.

Those who don’t reflect and evaluate will continue to muddle through the days, weeks, months and even years being cultivated by the forces of a culture, social pressures and personal weaknesses.  In contrast, those who reflect and evaluate will create a firm foundation that leads them to the road of success.  People who reflect and evaluate will know what to do and when to do it.  They will navigate the open road along with the winding curvy mountainous roads to success.

I strongly encourage you to reflect and evaluate 2015.  Where did you come from? , Where are you now?, and Where do you want to go?

Do it now for a successful 2016!!

2016 New Year celebration display with the date outlined with fiery sparklers in green and blue on a black background

THE RIGHT ROUTINE RESULTS IN SUCCESS

morning-routineAs I grow in my leadership, I realize the importance of creating a daily routine that will  drive my thoughts and actions for that day.   What I do at the beginning of each day and throughout the day are very important to the others days, weeks and even months.  What we think and do now, has a direct outcome on the future.

 

I thought I would share what I do to ensure my heart and attitude are right for the day’s activities and the interactions with others.

Here are 6 things I do every day to ensure I am fully prepared to succeed in whatever is planned or whatever unplanned events may come my way.

  1. Up By 4:30 AM – I get up early. I love being at the office and watch the sun come up.  It seems to inspire me.  Getting up at that time also allows me to complete the next 5 steps.  In addition, scientific evidence has shown getting up early will:  help your performance, make you more reliable, be more alert, stress less and loose more weight (not that you ladies need to).
  2. GET MY HEART RIGHT – I’ve come to know the great importance of beginning my day in prayer and reading the word of God.  This prepares  my heart and soul for the day activities.  I spend 30-45 minutes doing this.  It ensures I have the right mindset and attitude to interact and work with people, solve problems and to fully engage myself in the conversations and activities throughout the day.  I spend a big part of my day providing coaching and at times guidance to fellow employees.  My heart must be right, to give the right advice or coaching.
  3. PRIORITIZE – I have a list.  Every morning I review it, add to it, subtract from it, move things up or down, write notes out to the side of some, put ? marks on others.  I identify what is essential for that day. I prioritize for the days activities.  However, I also spend a little effort and time to determine what items are critical for tomorrow’s activities and the weeks to come.  I found the tI must not only plan for today but also the future.  I also know the tI must realize that some things can b put off for another day.  YOU CANNOT TACKLE EVERYTHING…….trying to will drive you mad!! Check your list multiple times a day and be flexible to re-prioritize as needed.
  4.  PERSONAL GROWTH – If you don’t invest in yourself, then you can’t invest tin others. Part of my morning is spent reading listening or watching a video to ensure my grow as a leader and professional. I use to hate to read.  Now, I just dislike it.  But I also realized that reading stimulates my thoughts, ideas and affects my actions (consider what you read). It also stirs up a sense of adventure, encourages me and  grows my vocabulary.  Find what motivates you.  But remember, this is your time, use it wisely.
  5. BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS – This is different from networking. Networking is positioning yourself within a professional setting through acquaintances .  Networking is not relational, but can produce relationships. Relationships are investing in others. It is the glue that holds people together.  Relationships allow  you to build trust through adding value and eventually influencing. Spend your morning and time throughout the day to send that email or call that person and see how they are doing and what you might be able to help with.
  6.  FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS –  Distraction can be is disastrous!!  Be sure and know when social media is appropriate and when your focus needs to be completing the task at hand.  It seems these days that every free mental moment is used to accept friend request, check that snapchat picture or grow our linked network.  Hey….that stuff will be there later.  However, if you don’t perform it might mean you don’t have a job.  I am very selective when accepting calls or emails.  Every hour I th-45will check my voice and email mails and respond to those that require my attention. Social media and conversations are reserved for breaks and lunches.  Now understand, situations change and there are always exceptions to the rule.

When we get the right routine, results follow.  Unfortunately when we have the wrong routine or no routine at all, results can suffer.  Invest the time and effort to create a routine that ensures your success.  Stick with it.  Make adjustments when necessary.  However,
have a routine and you will benefit from it.

INFLUENTIAL LEADERS ARE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATORS, 10 Principals to Becoming a Better Communicator

 Influential

GREAT LEADERS ARE GREAT COMMUNCIATORS.! I can’t think of any influential leader that is not a good communicator. Think about it. Everyone you respect as a leader can communicate effectively in every situation, good or bad, stressful or easy, big or small. As leaders, the way we approach and talk to people has a direct impact on the outcome. I wanted to write this piece because of my past (and sometimes present) way of approaching people and interacting with them. This is an area I have been working very hard on.

When I think about influence, I think about the initial contact, interaction and then the forthcoming communication1communication. Throughout my career, I have come to realize that influential people and those who have great interactive skills are able to recognize the situation and adjust their approach quickly to enable the most effective outcome.

To become an influential leader, you must learn to anticipate the reaction of people and use the correct tone and inflection to motivate the employee to react and respond appropriately. Remember, leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. So we must develop a communication method that allows for influence.

We all communicate, right? But what is communication? Ask anyone on the street and they will likely include the word, “talking”. Well, communicating definitely includes talking. But, is it simply talking? I define talking as a prearranged group of vowels and consonants expelled with an abundance of hot air to address a particular thought or answer. So I concede that communication does include talking certainly; however, communication must go beyond talking and into connecting.

In John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, But Few Connect, he discusses communication going way beyond words as revealed through a study conducted by UCLA Professor, Albert Mehrabian. Professor Mehrabian discovered that face-to-face communications could be broken down into three components: words, tone of voice, and body language. What may come as a surprise is that in some situations, what people see us do and the tone we use can far outweigh any words we say whth-33ile trying to communicate. If we can maximize the use of these three components in a conversation then we can become very effective communicators resulting in a positive interaction and greater ability to influence.

How do you become a better communicator and ultimately an Influential Leader? Through my own study and desire to improve, I have come up with 10 principles you can use to improve. Follow these and have greater influence.

  1. Know Who You are Talking To or Dealing With – Leaders who communicate effectively realize they are responsible for their reactions and are very careful to create a non-threatening atmosphere. They always seem to be in control of a conversation, but not over-powering. They don’t worry about sounding important, having power or being the “expert.” Instead, they think about what needs to be addressed and ultimately what needs to be said. They are thoughtful about how they can deliver this message so that people will be able to hear it.  Leaders communicate expectations and tell people what’s important for them to know, even if it’s negative.
  2. Evaluate Body Language – Influential Leaders constantly track people’s reactions to their message. You must recognize the changes in body language including facial expressions, body stances, etc. Is the person facing you, looking down or rolling his/her eyes? Body language is feedback. Many times, this is the only feedback you will get. Learn to read body language and you can tailor your message to adjust the way we interact as needed.
  3. Be Honest and Factual – People who are influential leaders are honest in their communication. They don’t stretch or exaggerate the circumstances. They certainly don’t lie to make their point or look good to others. They are transparent people that admit if they don’t have all the facts or can’t share information.   They don’t use the politician method of creating circular answers that never address the issue. Influential leaders understand that lies and half-truths create dissention, distrust and anxiety.
  4. Be Who You Are Regardless of the Situation- Don’t be someone you’re not! People will find out the real you. Position or prestige doesn’t change who you are. Look at professional athletes. They become rich and famous, but they are who they are regardless of the amount of money they have or how many highlight reels they make. There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg presented Facebook to investors in a hoodie and jeans. This is who he is and he knows the value of staying true to who he is. People will be open and allow you to influence if they believe you are who you and nothing more.
  5. Speak With Authority and Conviction – If you believe it, then say it! Don’t use words that you can’t say or don’t know the meaning of. President George W. Bush was the master of making up words. This often watered down or moved the focus from his points. However, he often spoke with authority and conviction giving credibility to his thoughts and desires. Influential Leaders speak directly to and with authority in the things they are passionate about and are clear on their desires and intended outcomes.
  6. Speak to Groups as Individuals – Leaders rarely have the luxury of speaking to one person at a time. Whether they’re addressing a toolbox topic or conducting a keynote with 5,000 people, influential leaders know how to work the crowd or group and make every single person feel as if he or she is being spoken to directly.
  7. Use Your Ears for More Than Hanging Glasses – Influential leaders realize that listening is far more than hearing. They understand that we listen not to reply, but to understand. When someone else is speaking, great communicators aren’t thinking ahead and planning what they’ll say next. Instead, they’re actively listening, fully focused on understanding the other person’s perspective. Leaders must listen to employees and seek to understand their concerns, hesitations and struggles.
  8. Be Humble – Influential leaders are not afraid to use phrases such as; “It’s My Fault,” “I Was Wrong,” and “I’m Sorry”. Humble leaders admit mistakes right away and are not driven by drama or false humility.
  9. Ask for Feedback – Influential leaders are always looking for ways to improve their communication and interaction. They are not afraid to ask how they can become better and more effective. They realize we see and hear our actions and words based on our intent, while others see and hear through our actual actions and words. If you are good, asking for feedback will make you better. If you are bad, it will improve you.   Either way, you will become better at communicating and interacting.
  10. Be Proactive, Not Reactive – Influential Leaders are proactive in responding to situations and rumors by being open and transparent in their communications. They are very clear in their directions and expectations and are always providing necessary feedback to ensure people don’t waste their time on things that don’t matter.

InfluenceAs I stated at the beginning, “Influential Leaders must become effective communicators. You will stand out and people will be drawn to you. Is it because of your effective influence or your destructive influence? When you implement these 10 principles, you become a better communicator with greater influence.

CHANGE…..DOESN’T HAVE TO HURT!

Let’s face it; change can be both difficult and frustrating. People like doing what they’ve always done and they don’t want anyone to tell them different! For those of you who utilize social media, I think you’ll agree with me that each time Facebook changes its layout; there is a general sense of panic from its loyal users. Updates are meant to act as an improvement to the program, but this is often overlooked. People don’t want to put forth an effort to become acquainted with a new Facebook layout; they simply want it to look as it did before. This same mentality can be translated into the workforce, change is often viewed as terrifying experience and for some, it takes a considerable amount of energy to accept unfamiliar territory.

However, change is to be expected. In fact, if it doesn’t happen, it can have a negative impact on business and professional growth. On the other hand, change doesn’t have to hurt. Our personal leadership will set the tone and the expectation for others to follow. I believe that if we have the right attitude and we take a humble approach, change will become easier. Winston Churchill once said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Our leadership attitude, along with how we approach people and situations will create a lasting effect on our efforts and end results.

I often recall (and remind myself) of the constant resistance that I experienced when I first began to implement changes within my current company. It seemed as if everything that needed modifications, often required long and tedious conversations beforehand. Now that some of the accepted changes have occurred within the company, I occasionally hear employees comment about how it has directly related to their positive attitude. The brilliant writer, C. S. Lewis said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will never get bent out of shape.” As I have identified and collaborated with other employees, I have realized that not only did the employees need to be flexible and open, but so did I. In fact, I found that my flexibility to push and pull back has made the path of change better. Not easier, but better.

As leaders, we must find ways to overcome resistance instead of being smothered by it. I came across these six steps in a blog by the John Maxwell Company staff writer. They are used everyday and I have found them useful in ensuring that we, as employees, stay the course.

  1. BE AWARE THAT MOTION CREATES FRICTION– Galileo discovered that moving objects create friction whenever they interact with a rigid surface. Leaders launch forward motion, but employees stubbornly resist change because they dislike uncertainty. Stay the course; be aware that you will encounter friction with new ideas and or suggestions.
  1. REMEMBER THE 20-50-30 PRINCIPLE– As rule of thumb, 20% of people will support change, 50% will be undecided and 30% will resist. Casey Stengel said this, “The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate your guts away from the guys who haven’t made up their minds yet.” Don’t try and sooth the 30%. All you will do is stir up a hornet’s nest. Instead, seek to convince and “woo” the 50% sitting on the fence. At the same time, encourage the 20% who are likely to help convince others and lead the drive for change.
  1. PROVIDE A CLEAR TARGET– I endure great pain to take long hikes and steep climbs to enjoy the scenic views from the top of a mountain or bluff. Without this reward, would I be so inclined to huff and puff and feel my legs burn? Probably not. A leaders duty is to remind employees where we are heading and what lies around the bend. Without a sense of purpose or vision, employees will loose heart and become discourage and resistant. Remember this, “Without a vision, the people will perish”.
  1. PROMISE PROBLEMS– Remind employees the rewards of change, but don’t mislead or sugar coat the difficulties. The real truth of change is things will get worse before they get better. Liken change to fixing your golf swing; altering your stance, swing and grip is award at first. In fact, it is easy to revert back to our previous bad habits, especially when we don’t see immediate results. However, if you stick to it, your shots become straighter, go further and you stay out of the woods and your score improves. Stick with it……….the rewards are great!
  1. INVOLVE EMPLOYEES IN THE PROCESS OF CHANGE– Change can make people feel uncomfortable and out of control. By including them in the process, they feel less vulnerable or helplessness during the process. It also gives them “skin in the game” and they begin to own the change. In fact, employee involvement will help convert the 50% and some of the 30% (refer to #2 above). Get people involved and listen to their ideas. Hey, try some of them; you might be surprised at the problems employees can solve. As leaders, we must be flexible in our thoughts and ideas and allow employees to make suggestions and give honest feedback. It’s ok if it is not the ideal way we would do something. Remember, “Blessed are the Flexible”. Be flexible, challenge your thinking.
  1. CELEBRATE SUCCESS– Regardless how we lead, change will wear you out! It takes a lot of energy and effort from everyone. In fact, it can just flat wear you out!! So, we have to remember to celebrate the small successes along the way. Make sure employees know we recognize the effort and strain and that we are appreciative of their efforts. This is a very important part to overcoming the stress of resistance.

Someone once said, “Change is inevitable,” and it happens regardless of our thoughts and feelings. We can choose to either embrace it or resist it, and our employees have the same options. Unfortunately, there will be those who prefer to resist change and chose not be a part of the future. That’s fine and as the saying goes, I hope “the door doesn’t hit ‘em on the way out!” Trust me, the company will benefit from those who do not oppose change.

Additionally, change doesn’t have to hurt. It may be a bumpy ride, but if you are diligent to remember these six things and implement them, they will make the bumps bearable. Utilizing these six nuggets of wisdom will help you overcome resistance to change, as well as lead others who are hesitant to leave their old habits and former ideas. Remember, everyone is watching and listening. Consequently, our attitudes, behaviors, and responses will greatly affect our employee’s abilities to embrace change.

CHANGE STARTS WITH US. LEAD WITH A HUMBLE HEART THAT IS WILLING TO FINISH THE RACE. THERE ARE GREAT REWARDS AT THE FINISH LINE!