5 STAGES OF LEADERSHIP

5 STAGES TO BECOMING A LEADERWithout influence there is no leadership.  John Maxwell states, “leadership develops daily, not in a day” Leadership is a process. In the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell states, “Champions don’t become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there.” People who aspire to become great leaders, must relate to the boxer. They must progress through the stages with hard work and determination for success. One must however, realize the stages within the process and what each entails. After all, each stage within the process, ultimately allows the leader to influence.

Through my development of leadership training material, speaking on the subject and coaching business professionals, I have concluded that leadership is achieved through a simple five (5) stage process that culminates with influence.

The five stages to leadership are:

STAGE 1 – CONNECTING with people

STAGE 2 – Building a sincere RELATIONSHIP

STAGE 3 – Creating TRUST

STAGE 4 – Adding VALUE

STAGE 5 – Ultimately INFLUENCING their decision process

Let’s take a look at each stage within the leadership process;

 STAGE 1 – CONNECTING

Connecting with people is the first stage in becoming a leader.  There is no influence without first connecting.  In the book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John Maxwell states, “Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them”.   One must look for opportunities to come along side employees and meet them where they are.  An intentional effort must be made getting to know employees.  Spend as much times as possible getting to know them, their families, their hobbies, and eventually what they like and don’t like or what works and doesn’t work.  To efficiently connect with people, do the following:

  • Don’t take anyone for granted – Value everyone and every task they perform, regardless of their position.
  • Convince them that you want to make a difference – If you don’t believe in it, how will they?
  • Follow up and follow on – I say it all the time, “Action is Traction”. Look for small and quick things that you can address. Start getting their buy-in by winning in the little things.
  • Look for common ground – I look for things in common. For me it’s baseball, NASCAR.  Listen in your conversations and key in on things that you have in common.
  • Be honest and transparent – Honesty and humility go a long way in connecting with people. Leave the arrogance at home.
  • Once you feel a connection, move on – You must complete the connection  before moving on to any other stage. Without it, there is no other stage.

When you connect with employees, you position yourself to make the most of your efforts, thus creating an environment for performance.  Connecting creates the foundation for moving to the next step, building a sincere relationship.

 STAGE 2REALATIONSHIPS

In his book, My Personal Best, author John Wooden writes; “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do, so keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make makes you”.  Nowhere is this more evident and true than in the relationships you build.  Building a sincere relationship is the second stage of the leadership process.  Relationships are sacred. When we connect with people, we must maintain that connection by building a relationship. That simply means spending time with employees. Helping them solve problems, standing with them in the rain, snow and heat. Being there to hear their struggles and concerns. Relationships are the key to creating trust. In the relationship stage, employees begin to trust you. In the book, Beyond Talent, Maxwell outlines mutual enjoyment, respect, shared experiences, trust and reciprocity as the five signs of a solid relationship.   Steven Covey said, “The relationship neither makes the issue any less real or important, nor eliminates the differences in perspective.  But it does eliminate the differences in personality and position and creates a positive cooperative energy focused on thoroughly understanding the issues and resolving them in a mutually beneficial way.”  Building relationships creates trust.

STAGE 3TRUST

Steven Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life.  It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.  It’s the foundational principle that upholds all relationships”.  Trust is crucial in the leadership process. In fact, trust is the foundation of leadership. Trust can be described simply by comparing it to pocket change.  Every good decision puts change in your pocket.  Every poor decision takes change out of your pocket. The key is to increase your pocket change, rather than always paying it out. Sure we all make mistakes.  And each mistake cost us change from our pocket. However, employees are tolerant of mistake as long as we are transparent, quick to humility and strive to regain their confidence.

John Maxwell shares three qualities a leader must exhibit to gain trust; competence, connection and character. Violate anyone of these three qualities and you will loose the trust of those who follow. Trust is doing what’s right because it’s right.  I don’t think anyone can remain a leader if he or she continues to make poor decisions and break the trust of employees. In fact, a leader can’t be a leader if there is no trust, because trust leads to influence. If people don’t trust you, you can’t have influence. Without influence, you can’t lead.

STAGE 4VALUE

Adding value is the work of the three stages above. If you have properly connected with your employees and built a sincere firm relationship through trust, then I believe you have the tools and knowledge to add value to them. Zig Ziglar said. “I had to live in the desert before I could understand the full value of grass in a green ditch.” Value is achieved by understanding what is important to those you influence or desire to influence.

Let’s make sure we are all on the same page. I am not talking about the monetary value of something, but rather the value gained through effort. You add value through respect. Respect is gained not in the normal things, but rather the difficult right things. One must be viewed as competent and credible before respect is given. John Maxwell said, “While poor leaders demand respect, competent leaders command respect”. As leaders become more and more credible their command for respect become more and more evident. Value takes more than just “telling” , but rather one must demonstrate commitment and consistency in the activities and actions relating to safety.

Proactive value should be the basis for all activities and goals and objectives. Proactive professionals are smartly driven individuals looking to read reality and know what’s needed. Professionals who look to manipulate begin a series of distrust which tends to cause relationships to dissolve and the loss of leadership. Albert Einstein said ,”Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”. If the organization see’s the value in the direction, activities and actions, then the door to influence is open.

 STAGE 5INFLUENCE

Ultimately, the goal is to influence all levels with in the organization in the direction that provides the most successful outcome. Influence is what we need to lead. Without influence no one can achieve anything.  Leaders must learn to influence without authority. If you want to lead, you must become a person of influence.

Leadership is achieved by completing these 5 stages.  But remember, leadership is influence………….

If you can’t learn how to influence, you can’t be a leader.

 

10 ACTIONS TO INCREASE YOUR INFLUENCE

cropped-influenceyoucanmakeadifference.jpgWant to increase your influence?  I think the 10 actions and concepts below will help you.  As you have probably heard me say or read John Maxwell’s writings, he defines leadership as Influence,Nothing More, Nothing Less. I work daily to increase my influence.  However, I’ve come to realize that influence takes time.  It requires consistency and tenacity.   Try these actions and concepts. Practice them often and  stay you will increase your influence.

Read it…….it’s less than a 1000 words!

  • WANT TO INFLUENCE? FIRST THINGS FIRST, ENCOURAGE – Start every conversation with something positive about the person or group you are addressing.  I’ve learned this over the years.  People are motivated by encouraging words.
  • INFLUENCE BY UNDERSTANDING  – Although you have a responsibility for self-leadership, leadership is about others. When I think about what needs to happen or take place, I think about how my actions, my conversations and my vision will affect others. I’ve realized that my performance is a direct reflection of my leadership.
  • INFLUENTIAL LEADERS EXPERIENCE THE WORLD OF THOSE THEY LEAD – They look at the bigger picture, they understand the trials and troubles they go through. Good leaders become someone who listens to their people, not to reply, but to understand. Get in tune and understand the people you lead and you will increase your influence.
  • INFLUENTIAL LEADERS REALIZE  EVERYONE COMES IN DIFFERENT SHAPES AND SIZES – They realize that Good Leaders Ask Great Questions (read this book from John Maxwell). The right questions will uncover a person’s interest and what motivates them. I think it is important to connect by finding common ground and nurturing relationships. This process will allow the leader to develop relative questions that will reveal their desires and interest.
  • INFLUENTIAL LEADERS HELP OTHERS – I think we get so consumed with our own desires and agendas that tunnel vision occurs and we don’t see the needs of others.  I have learned when we are first to offer assistance and help, we begin connecting in such a way that our relationship allows us to influence.  Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”.  Look at those you lead, take action and watch your influence grow.
  • INFLUENTIAL LEADERS ADD VALUE –  People who are in it for themselves will never achieve anything great. Those who look for ways to add value to others will influence.  Add value by finding out what is important to those you lead. Value will look different in every situation.  A good leader will ask great questions to identify what value looks like.  Treat value independently to the person.
  • INFLUENCE WITH STORIES AND EXAMPLES – As a speaker, I’ve learned the importance of sharing good relevant stories. As a leader and professional, I’ve recognized the importance and effectiveness of sharing good stories with those I influence. People want to see the human side of leaders. I believe stories create a sense of belonging and connect us through life’s similarities.  Leaders who learn to master the art of good storytelling are the one’s who attract followers.Showing-direction-influence
  • INFLUENCE BY GIVING OF YOURSELF WITHOUT ANY STRINGS ATTACHED –  Give without any strings attached. I believe it is very important to be in “in tune” with those you lead or have potential influence with. Christopher Reeve said “Success is finding satisfaction in giving a little more than you take”.  When we give without any strings attached, we will benefit professionally and personally and professionally.
  • PEOPLE OF INFLUENCE KNOW THE IMPORTANCE OF A NAME – What is so important about a person’s name?  It is how we identify them.  Sure there are many people who have the same name, but what happens when you call a random name in a crowd?  People respond.   Learn the names of those you meet and associate with.   Few sounds are as sweet to a person as hearing their spoken name, few sounds are as irritating when you refer to someone by the wrong name.  Remembering names, shows you value them.
  • INFLUENTIAL LEADERS PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGE STRENGTHS – I think one of the best ways to gain influence is to acknowledge a person’s strengths.   Areas within their personality or employment that seems to tie them well to the organization. When people are recognized for what they do well, they gain an enthusiasim to do more and do it better.  In fact, they will want to “Exceed Expectations”, not just meet them.  When people exceed expectations, everyone wins!  Recognize what people do well in front of others and you will be surprised by the growth of influence.

We all have influence, big andInfluence-2 small.   We all have things we are gifted or good at. Things we leverage by adding value to others.  Whether it is our attitude, problem solving skills or simply just our ability to laugh, we should be sharing our knowledge, experience and influence.  Employees respond to influence.   We should work hard to increase our influence by adding real value everyday. Do this and you will increase your leadership. You’ve heard it before, Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.  Go have influence on others!!

6 R’s of Leadership While on Vacation or Holiday

IMG_3460 We all need time away from work and our daily activities.  Every good leader takes a vacation or holiday.  I personally make sure use all of my annual allotted time.  The stress and activity level is high.  The down time allows me to gather my thoughts and replenish my energy.

Recently, I spent a week on the beach in Destin, FL.  During this time, I wrote down six things I wanted to  make sure I accomplish that week.  I knew this would ensure I was able to return to my job in the best mental and physical condition.

I call these the 6 R’s of Leadership While on Vacation/Holiday.  Here they are;

  1. REST – This is what you came to do.  Make sure you get plenty.  Rest can look like mIMG_3439any things; sports, sightseeing, hiking, etc.  Whatever it is, just make sure you get plenty of it.
  2. Refresh – Take time to meditate and let your troubles go.
  3. Renew – Renew and rebuild your relationships with your family, most importantly your spouse or significant other.
  4. Recharge – Regain your strength, motivation and desire to connecting, building relationships and influence.
  5. Relax – Chill out, your on vacation!!!  Leave the phone and laptop in the room, or vehicle.  Dutch things that make you happy.  Laugh a lot!
  6. Recalibrate – Spend time thinking about what you need to personal change or do to be a stronger, better leader when you get back.

Try it next time you take some time off, I think you will see a huge difference in attitude and mindset when you
return.

Thanks and Take Care

Denis

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EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS, Your Break Away from Being Average

Expectations are a part of our personal and professional life. Our parents had them while we were growing up, as well as teachers, coaches, and so forth. In the workforce, employers set expectations for our performance, typically established in the form of annual reviews or evaluations. th-3

Let’s be honest, expectations are found throughout all facets of life. There are just certain things people expect from us and likewise, things we expect from others.

Allow me to share a story with you.

A few years back, I recall a Friday afternoon at the airport waiting on a flight to Dallas. I hadn’t been home in almost two weeks and I was eager for the trip to be over. It was stormy throughout the western United States, but since I was flying from Boston, I didn’t think anything of it. As I checked the monitor, however, I noticed that my flight had been delayed forty-five minutes. Of course I was annoyed, but that’s how it sometimes goes when you’re traveling, right? Unfortunately, the forty-five minute delay turned into a three-hour wait! By this point, I wasn’t just annoyed, I was mad! Looking around the gate, it was clear that all the other passengers were angry as well.

sq-akl-gate-16-seating In spite of this, something started to happen at the gate. Airline workers began handing out drinks and snacks. I noticed a slight shift in the mood of the delayed passengers, including myself. In fact, I actually heard a few laughs. Eventually, we all boarded the plane and headed south. The general mood brightened when the flight attendant announced that due to the delay, all drinks were free. Sweet!

The crowd buzzed a little louder and the overall atmosphere was a cheerful one. People seemed happy and the flight, thankfully, went very quickly. Before I knew it, we were in Dallas.

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The airline not only met my expectations, but exceeded them as well! My initial expectation was just to get home safely. Even though I didn’t arrive home as scheduled, I observed an airline that went above and beyond to accommodate a situation that ultimately, was out of their hands.

How is it that expectations are exceeded? Generally speaking, it’s easy to meet expectations, but what if you knew how to surpass them?

I’ve established a list of personal insights and thoughts that I truly believe will help you not only meet expectations, but exceed them. Listed below are the things I use as a reminder when I set expectations for myself.

These work for me. However, I hope my insights inspire you to try some as well in your own life. Read through these and decide what works for you and then us them.

  1. I recognize disappointment is simply the gap between expectations and reality
  2. I consistently strive to exceed expectations
  3. The only person that can raise my standard of expectations isME!
  4. I expect more from myself than others expect from me
  5. I realize that it’s impossible to offer excuses and still exceed expectations
  6. I recognize focusing is the single-most important skill in exceeding expectations
  7. I constantly reflect upon the statistic that only 2% of people consistently exceed expectations and 80% don’t even meet minimum expectations
  8. I understand that simply meeting expectations is average.  I don’t want to be average
  9. I will never be excellent in my weaknesses
  10. I expect more from myself than anyone else
  11. I refuse to live in the past
  12. I don’t use relationships to cover your failures or shortcomings
  13. I understand respect must be earned daily
  14. I continually ask for feedback
  15. I only travel the high road with others
  16. I give 100% at key times with key people everyday
  17. I value people too much to not give them my best
  18. I exceed expectations because I surround myself with those who exceed expectations

I once heard John Maxwell tell a story about his grandson, Troy. Troy had recently graduated from college and attained 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 other employees. He said you have to set yourself apart; otherwise, you’ll just be another employee. Here are the things 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, even when it’s not your job-Make it a point to do something for someone everyday, even though it’s not technically under your job description.
  3. Make an appointment with your leader (boss) and thank him/her for your job-Express gratitude and humility.

In my opinion, these three things will exceed everyone’s expectations. Surpassing expectations will set you apart from everyone else. It opens the door for a bright and successful future.

If you’ve heard me speak, then you have heard me say,

PEOPLE DON’T CARE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW, UNTIL THEY KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE!”

I also state, “People aren’t going to care how much you do or accomplish, until they know that you are better than average”.th-8

DON’T BE AVERAGE, AVERAGE IS BORING……………….EXCEED EXPECTATIONS!

MUST HAVE’S FOR ANY EFFECTIVE AND SUCCESSFUL LEADER

What a great time to be a leader or in a leadership role! Yes, you read that right. Let me repeat, what a great time to be a leader OR in a leadership role! Are you a leader just because you’re in a leadership role? In my opinion, NOT NECESSARILY! I know many people in leadership roles, that for the life of me, I cannot figure out how they got there.

Leaders, true leaders, possess certain traits and attributes. There are certain things that leaders are good at and do well. I believe there has to be something that sets them apart from the rest of the organization. If not, anyone could be a leader.

What if there was something that would make you more successful, more effective, and make your job easier? As leaders, it is our duty to learn what it takes to become both effective and successful. These two things, being effective and successful, can have lasting impacts.

This article will provide you with the must-haves to be an effective and successful leader. In fact, I don’t believe you can be a successful leader without first being an effective one.

What led to the creation of these top must-haves? After much deliberation, they were the result of a personal need to try something new. What I did for many years in the professional arena, unfortunately, did not work. I had good performance on occasion, but it wasn’t sustainable. I discovered that a personal approach to leadership was what I needed. One of the things I noticed in many leaders was a general lack of character. That generalization not only motivated me, but also helped me develop the “Must-Haves” from a perspective on character.

Listed below are the Must-Haves:

  1. Must have an unwavering PASSION for the profession.
  2. Must have a great ATTITUDE
  3. Must be a PROBLEM SOLVER
  4. Must take INITIATIVE
  5. Must have HUMILITY

The following information is an overview of each item listed above. This is just an overview. Each item could be an article all it’s own and probably will be. However, I try to provide basic practical information for each.

1.  Must have an unwavering PASSIONLove your profession or leave it!

I am so tired of meeting professionals that hate their job, hate their profession, or those who simply chose their job because it’s easy. If that is you, find a job that you love, a profession that builds passion.

Passion fuels your will-power as a leader. Without it, you’ll lack the drive to change and overcome obstacles. Those of you who lack passion within your profession, QUIT!

Passion is what drives me to learn more and work hard everyday, so that I can rest easy when my employees make it home safely from work.

2.  Must have a great ATTITUDEA great attitude is a positive attitude.

I think it was William James who once said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.”

3.  Must be a PROBLEM SOLVER – Can’t let your problems be a problem

Leaders are good at identifying problems, issue and concerns. Whether it is conditions or behaviors, leaders can tell you what is wrong and many are very good at it! In fact, I think a lot of professionals take pride in identifying and pointing out issues. The question is, are you good at solving the problems? Be a problem solver and influence!

4.  Must take INITIATIVE –  READY………FIRE………AIM.

My staff hears it all the time. What does it mean? Shouldn’t you aim first, then fire? No. Simply identify the problem, fix it, and then make the necessary adjustments later. At least you did something. If you never take initiative, things will never get done!

If you identify a problem or something that needs to be done, who is the best person to initiate the solution? YOU ARE!

5.  Must have HUMILITY – Humility is better than humiliation

I always have to include humility in any discussion I have on leadership, regardless of whether I am focused on the HSE Profession or leadership in general.

Why? The reason is because so many leaders struggle with this. They’re under the impression that you must be tough, authoritative, and all knowing in every situation. I’m aware of this because I used to lead that way.

However, throughout all of my leadership mistakes in life, marriage, parenting, and work, I realized that leadership is about knowing what you know, and more importantly, recognizing what you don’t know. Not only is there intrinsic value in the admitting that you don’t know all things, but also external importance amongst employees who sense your humility.

Here’s a promise, employees sometimes know things that you don’t know. They may not say it to your face, but trust me; they are talking behind your back.

I love what C.S. Lewis and Lou Brock have to say about the subjects of humility and pride:

 C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Lou Brock said, “Show me a guy who is afraid to look bad, and I will show you a guy you can beat every time.”

 A lack of humility makes us vulnerable. Without it, we open the door for negative things. People don’t want to follow arrogant leaders, they want to follow someone whom they believe in and connect with. A lack of humility withholds honest connections with others; therefore, we must act as humble leaders.

CONCLUSION

Here’s a re-cap of the must-haves for leadership.

  1. Must have an unwavering PASSION for the profession.
  2. Must have a great ATTITUDE
  3. Must be a PROBLEM SOLVER
  4. Must take INITIATIVE
  5. Must have HUMILITY

This is a very quick overview of each item. Honestly, it’s only an introduction into what it takes to become an effective and successful leader. Throughout the years, these five must-haves have helped distinguish me as a leader. They are my personal aspirations and they may or may not work for you. You must evaluate your current leadership style. Identify what will complement your personality and how you can create influence that will enable you to lead.

Take time and research each of these must-haves and learn how to apply them in your current position. I am confident that you will become a more effective leader because of it.

LEADERSHIP COUNTS

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I can recall it vividly. About 4 PM on a recent Monday afternoon, I was in my office having a meeting when my cell phone rang. I looked at it and saw that it was our service director. However, I chose not to answer and continued my focus and attention on the person I was meeting with. The phone immediately rang again. This time, I excused myself and answered the phone. The service director quickly informed me that one of our vehicles was involved in a very serious accident, one with potential for significant injuries. He stated the area manager was on his way to the scene and was currently in a conversation with the vehicle passenger

As information, as well as pictures, quickly came in from various sources, I was able to piece together a relatively accurate account of the incident. It appeared that a vehicle had attempted to make a left hand turn across traffic. A semi truck was heading in the opposite direction and tried to take evasive action by entering the opposite lane of traffic where our vehicle had been traveling. In an attempt to avoid the truck, our driver left the road and went into a field. However, he was hit by the semi, causing our vehicle to roll several times with the semi resting on the top of the upside down vehicle. Both employees were able to exit the vehicle, but were transported to the hospital for evaluation. After a series of tests, both employees were released from the hospital. One was released with no injuries and the other received sutures due to a laceration on the head. Despite the severity of the wreck, the outcome was a positive one. Our employees left the scene of the accident with only minor injuries. It was great end result to a potentially devastating outcome.

As I reflect upon this situation, I have recognized just how much leadership counts! The way one conducts them selves during a situation has a dramatic impact upon others and the overall situation. With this incident in mind, I believe it’s important to outline the leadership traits and qualities that are crucial during a time of crisis.

Listed below are the steps I took during this particular crisis. These steps allowed me to posses the poise and confidence needed to lead our people as well as the company through this crisis.

  • I had to quickly define what the problem was – Sounds straightforward doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. To accurately define the problem, I had to sift through all of the initial information and decide what were assumptions, exaggerations, and just hearsay.
  • I asked pertinent questions to simplify the situation – I focused my questions on those that would provide relevant, simple information. I wanted to obtain information that was relevant, so I could relay an accurate account of the situation to my executive group. This was not the time to figure out what caused the accident to happen in the first place.
  • I had candid communications – I was frank with my executives and CEO. It was a serious incident, one with potential for devastating results. I stuck to the facts. I never downplayed the situation or made things appear different from the presented information.
  • I secured authorization to make decisions – I needed to secure the support of the executive group. The first three steps above showed this to be a swift, almost non-existent need. This allowed me to make decisions and take action with confidence. For example, I flew the injured employee’s girlfriend in from California and ensured that other family members were able to meet him at the hospital. I also made sure that everyone was fed and taken care of.
  • I utilized the entire TEAM– I quickly realized that I wasn’t in the best position to make certain decisions. I brought in my regional EHS director for information on the injured employee and used the area manager for information regarding the accident scene. We also utilized lead individuals to gather personal belongings, tools, and equipment.
  • I made the decision to do the right thing regardless of the outcome – I had to make decisions that were right for the employees’ health and well-being. I refused to cut corners or lower my ethical standards that would sway the outcome for me or anyone else.
  • I needed to be visible and provide reassurance and support – I needed to be at the location. I felt it was critical to show support and reassure everyone that we would get through this. I booked an early morning flight. However, due to weather, my flight was delayed three different times. I made the decision to drive the nine-hour trek and get there by early evening.
  • I displayed support and commitment by meeting the needs of those involved – The time spent on site was a simple one. I demonstrated support and commitment by making sure the employees had everything they needed. As I was told the details of what happened, I listened. This was not the place or time to investigate. I simply bought lunch, ensured needs were taken care of, and settled all medical costs. In addition, I provided an ear to hear and listened to those around me.

These eight action steps allowed me to be an effective leader by managing the situation, adequately communicating the facts, and leading people to an effective resolution. In retrospect, there are some things that I could have handled more efficiently. However, I can take these gained insights and use it to transform me into a more effectual leader.

Our ability to lead people through a crisis is the most important tool to obtain. Whether it’s ensuring the emergency is under control and necessary resources are available, or simply being a support person where people are taken care of and the facts are communicated, your leadership counts.

IMG_3178I hope by outlining my personal actions during this particular crisis will help you become a better leader. If and when you find yourself in the middle of situation, remember, a leader must show value and demonstrate influence to lead effectively.

LEADERHSIP THOUGHTS

th I recently spent 5 days in Orlando attending the John Maxwell Group Training.  This was my second event and I can say it did not disappoint.  MY only problem seems to be how do I capture all of the incredible information that comes out.  I

I decided to take some of my notes and attempt to create a bullet point list.  Hopefully these will means something to you.  I have divided the points by subject matter to help you.

I will be writing more in-depth on the subjects in the future.

MENTORING

  • The more you know, the more you don’t know
  • Malcom Gladpoint, “the tipping point”, law of the few. Find the right few to invest your time and effort in, the payoff will be huge and very regarding.
  • Being a leader means you continue to learn and that flows through you.
  • WE ARE A RIVER….NOT A RESERVOIR
  • Mentor is both a verb and a noun;
    • V – people of action
    • N – who you are
  • Mentorship is defined as a transfer of wisdom extracted from experience and knowledge.
  • Mentor – must ask 2 questions
    • What am I learning?
    • Can I pass it along?
  • It is best to learn and pass the information on quickly. Mentoring is a constant process
  • Passing information and learning on is underlining your experience, it is a fresh perspective and sense of learning and knowledge.
  • FRESH carries a PASSION!!! However, passion dies over time, unless it is consistently fed.
  • Everything you learn, receive and acknowledge is not yours, you are simply a manager of information and must pass it on to others.
  • Mentoring is a relationship, NOT A TITLE!
  • Mentoring is not a friendship, but rather a relationship. It is a two way street , side-by-side.
  • Mentoring is empowerment. Relationships breakdown when only one person is carrying the load.
  • THE BEST LEADERS EQUIP AND TRAIN OTHERS!!

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS

  • Most people, 80% don’t meet expectations.  20% consistently exceed expectations
  • Disappointment is the gap between expectations and reality
  • the only person that can raise the standard of expectation is you
  • If you want to be average, than do something else, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
  • life is not complicated, we’ve made life complicated.
  • I’m tired of giving everyone trophies, for losing every game.  We need to give our kids a reason to want to be better.
  • Always expect the best out of yourself and others
  • Don’t do anything average. There’s nothing exciting about being average
  • life is not complicated, if you pay the price, it’s gets complicated for lazy people
  • Always ask, “What else can I do to exceed their expectations”
  •  Expect more of yourself than others expect of me
  • Don’t short change people
  •  If you find a better way, change immediately
  •  Don’t use relationships to cover my shortcomings or my issues
  • I exceed expectations because I ask for feedback all the time.
  • I only travel the high road with others.  I am going to treat you better than you treat me.
  • Never take advantage of a person even if you can
  • Don’t shortcut people. Always give your best.
  • Refuse to live off of your past.
  • Yesterday ended last night. Give it up!

Hope these help provoke a thought or two with you!

Attitudes, Can They Change

In safety, a big part of our profession involves behavior modification activities. Whether it is from a behavior observation process or from one-on-one conversations, we spend a lot of time reviewing statistical results and/or visually observing behaviors.

I’ll never forget the story my daughter recounted one day. She heard it from a speaker in elementary school. Although the story was most likely not true, it nevertheless painted a picture of what “attitude” is and the impact it can have upon a person.

“ A man finds himself accidently locked in a refrigerated boxcar. Unable to get out, he uses a knife to etch words and phrases onto the wooden floor, such as….”It’s so cold, my body is getting numb” and “I don’t have much longer…” As the hours go by, the man slowly succumbs to death. The next day, the man’s body is discovered. His written records indicate death due to hypothermia, but the physical evidence shows that the temperature never dropped below 50 degrees. If it wasn’t hypothermia that caused his death, then what was it?

If it wasn’t hypothermia that caused his death, then what was it? The answer of course, is his ATTITUDE, plain and simple. He had determined he was going to die and in his mind, there were no other options. This story demonstrates how powerful our attitude can be and how it dramatically alters the outcome of any situation. So what happens when a person’s attitude interferes and affects their behavior? Can a person’s attitude be changed? I think it can. Allow me to explain.

I have always taught that behaviors can be changed and modified through training, accountability, etc. However, the individual controls their attitude. It’s a choice. An individual will bring their own thoughts and feelings to the workplace, as well as their personal viewpoints with them. In fact, Webster dictionary defines attitude as “A feeling or a way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.” If we take this definition and dissect it, we discover that a person’s attitude is their “way of thinking.” Therefore, if I change their “way of thinking,” I can change their attitude and ultimately their behavior. If we change their behavior, then we can reduce risk and potential injuries.

Attitude is more important than anything else. It is esteemed more than money, your circumstances, your failures or your successes. It is more valuable than your appearance, your talent, or your skill. Your attitude will make or break you. It will determine your ability to succeed in everything you do.

At my company, we hire based on attitude, not necessarily knowledge or ability (although that is very important). I spend a lot of my time teaching our leaders how to identify candidates that possess the right attitude. You see, if a person has the right attitude, then we can teach and train them for almost any position.

I am totally convinced in the phrase that states life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it! Winston Churchill once said, ”Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.” There is a direct correlation between attitude and behaviors. A person’s behavior is affected by their attitude. An employee will likely do what is required when the supervisor or safety professional is around. But what about the moments when no one is around? A person’s behavior doesn’t dictate their attitude, but their attitude can dictate their behavior.

Can you positively affect a person’s attitude? Absolutely! Here are several things that can make a positive impact on a person’s attitude.

Attitude Awareness– Recognize a person’s attitude (their state of mind). It will determine the approach you take when interacting with them. Using the wrong approach could result in confrontation, rather than a solution. Bad attitudes catch on much quicker than good ones. A person with a bad attitude can affect many people very quickly. Think about it, they are in the work area all the time, interacting with those in their shop, location, etc. Remind employees that attitudes (both positive and negative) are contagious. When addressing the individual’s attitude, place the focus on the behavior instead of their personality traits. ROTTEN ATTITUDES WILL RUIN EVERYTHING! They must be addressed.

Take Responsibility for Your Attitude– Surround yourself with those who are optimistic. You’ve heard the saying, “Bad company corrupts good character.” There is definite truth to this statement. It’s easy to get swept into a mentality that brings about gossip, complaints, and inefficiency. If you make a conscious effort to begin each day with a positive frame of mind, you will be more equipped to handle unforeseen tasks and events. Remember this…a lot goes into an attitude, but a lot more comes out of it! As a leader, this can create success or failure. You own your attitude, be careful.

Be Consistent – Consistency in our decisions, approaches, applications and interactions formulate our credibility. Employees must understand that we are who we are regardless of the situation. You can demonstrate consistency when your yes is a yes and your no is no. Being a consistent leader will help you gain respect and credibility, both of which are essential to changing the attitudes of employees. If your employees consistently chose to not like you, at least there is consistency.

Be Persistent – Persistence creates expectation. If you continue to be persistent in a cause, then I believe you will succeed in that cause. In fact, I believe if you are consistent in your desires, instructions, applications and requirements, you will establish a persistent expectation. Your employees will embrace that expectation. It may take a while, but eventually they will grow weary of fighting and will comply.

As I close, I ask the question again. Can a person’s attitude change? I truly believe it can. There must be willingness and a desire to change, but I believe everyone has that. The key is to figure what triggers the change. When we are aware of an employee’s attitude, we can take necessary steps to accommodate and approach the attitude. I believe we can successfully engage the employee through conversation and achieve desired results. We can also alter a person’s attitudes by taking responsibility for our own. Our positive attitude in the workplace is contagious. In addition, we must be consistent in our approach, thoughts and direction to all employees. Remember, let your yes be a yes, and your no be a no. Lastly, be persistent in your efforts and expectations. Do not waver. As the leader, pursue consistency and establish your expectations.

Attitudes can change. In fact, employees with the right attitudes will exhibit desired behaviors. Those desired behaviors reduce risk and ultimately injuries. The result? A workplace free of injuries, something of which that we all desire.

CEO FOR A WEEK Interest vs. Commitment

I recently became a CEO. However, after eight days, I found myself back in my old position at my previous company. Why? I quickly realized that I was interested in the idea of being a CEO but not committthere%27s+a+difference+betweened to actually being one. Let me try to share the highlights of my journey.

Late one afternoon, while sitting at my desk, I received a call from the Chairman of the Board of a newer EHS Consulting and Services company. He mentioned that he was given my information by a mutual acquaintance and after some research; he and the Board thought my experience and leadership training would make me a great fit as the CEO for this new company. I remember thinking to myself, “what the heck? Me, a CEO? This has to be a joke…” And even though I was certain he had the wrong number, I continued to listen to what the Chairman had to say. After some confirmation I was indeed the intended recipient of this call. I agreed to meet with him and discuss the offer a little more. It took several meetings and phone conversations but slowly, I was starting to tell myself they were right and I was a great fit.

So, after a few months of contemplation and discussions with my wife, I was giving my notice to my current employer. Excited, eager and full of energy, I arrived at the office and began to meet people and settle in. However, after a couple of days, I began to feel uncomfortable. Despite my constant efforts to make myself feel at home and connect with people, things just didn’t feel right and it was becoming obvious that I didn’t fit in. The harder I tried, the more I failed. It didn’t take me long to realize this new role was completely different from anything I had ever done before. Formerly, my role as VP, EHS was to create a culture through policies, procedures and programs and lead my staff through encouragement, motivation and support. Now, I saw my role as the visionary leader who would be responsible for the overall direction of the company. Although it was a great opportunity, it wasn’t my what I did. It wasn’t what I was good at. I spent my whole career getting good at building safe cultures. My initial position was to build a business; to create a service that would be desired by companies worldwide and I was confident in my ability to be successful. As the reality of the situation was setting in, I was beginning to see I would have to balance things differently in my life. I would be limiting the time spent on things I loved, such as leadership training and keynote speaking and it didn’t seem as though this new position was going to be worth it. It became very evident that I was not committed to this role. Sure, with A LOT of hard work and lost weekends, I believe I could have been successful. But was that what I wanted at this point in my life? No it wasn’t.

I don’t know about you, but when something doesn’t feel right, I don’t sleep very well, some nights, not at all. I spent several nights lying awake in bed or pacing the living room, trying to figure out why I wasn’t confident in this position. I wasn’t myself. I would come home and my wife knew I wasn’t happy, without me having to say a word. Although it was a short time, it quickly became the norm. I would come home and not have a positive thing to say. We use to cherish the evenings and converse about our days. What was wrong? After all, I was now a CEO!  Well, it took me about six days into my new role for me to realize, I was simply interested in being a CEO, but definitely not committed.

Identifying this as the root of my unhappiness and the cause of my now unsettled life, I spent some time in thought and came up with a few reasons why I felt I was interested vs. committed. I want to quickly share some of these with you.

Interest

There is no doubt that I was very interested in being the CEO of this company. In fact, my life goal has always been to be the top leader.  Here are some of the things that interested my about this position;

  1. I had interest in being the decision maker.
  2. I had a desire to build a company that provided a livelihood for others. I wanted to help others succeed.
  3. I had a desire to create a culture based on my own leadership desires, ethics and moral values.
  4. I had a desire to show friends and family I could be successful.
  5. I wanted my wife to think her husband was the “bid dog”.

Commitment

When it came down to it, I just wasn’t committed. I found there were a lot of sacrifices that needed to be made and I wasn’t necessarily ready to make them.

  1. I wasn’t committed to working the hours that were necessary to get the company off the ground.
  2. I wasn’t committed to not having the benefits that come with an established company.
  3. I wasn’t committed to taking the financial risks that were necessary.
  4. I wasn’t committed to altering the balance between my work life and personal life. I was fond of the lifestyle my wife and I have grown accustom to.
  5. I wasn’t committed to giving up my leadership training and speaking opportunities; the things I loved doing the most.

I was interested in the notion of being CEO, but I was not committed to the sacrifices that were required of me. I am like the chicken in The Chicken and the Pig fable (modified to make my point);

I am interested enough to lay the egg, but I am not committed enough to be the
piece of ham on the plate.

pig_chickenI read a quote somewhere that said “Commitment is an act, not a word”. I was not willing to make the commitment necessary to ensure the success of this company. Would it be fair to continue in a position where you are not fully committed? I didn’t think it would be.

WHAT I LEARNED

Once I had realized I wasn’t fully committed to being the CEO of this company, I called my former CEO and humbly made it clear that I had made a mistake and desired to come back (humility, a topic for another blog). It worked out and I began to transition back into my position as VP, EHS. Next, I had to confront the Chairman of the Board and let him know my decision. I was honest with him about not being committed and he genuinely understood my position and the struggles I had faced. So, he graciously accepted my resignation.

The fact of the matter was simply this:
I loved my current job and I was extremely happy and successful at it. I realized that we all have a role in life, and once you find what that is, it is hard to change it. I believe that we are all born with talents, some more than others. A professional football player doesn’t easily transition into a professional soccer player. Just like, a professional baseball player doesn’t just become a NASCAR racer. One doesn’t become a world-class pianist by being interested in playing the piano. No, they become world-class by being committed to being the best.

I am not saying that I wouldn’t ever consider being anything more than a VP, EHS, but I feel I will be better prepared to identify if I am just simply interested or if I am truly committed.

It is my hope and desire that someone in a similar situation may read this and have a better understanding of being interested vs. committed. I was incredibly fortunate to be able to return to my previous role and continue on with not only what I am good at, but what I truly love doing. Sometimes, that’s not the case.

LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE – How to Become a Person of Influence

7724040I teach, write, and talk a lot about leadership and the need for leadership in every part of our lives.  I cannot discuss leadership (in any capacity) without referring to influence.  You see, leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less……………There can be no leadership without influence, because that is how a leader leads……………….. through their influence on others.

The more we lead, the more influence we must have on people.  Our ability to lead people is directly proportional to our ability to influence them. The more we lead, the more we influence.

I thought I would share some insights on what influence is and isn’t. As well as what it takes to become a person of influence.

 BECOMING A PERSON OF INFLUENCE:

Many “so called” leaders misinterpret what influence is.  This creates confusion.  Let me begin by sharing what influence is not.

Influence is not:

  • Force – a leader cannot force a person to do something.  Well… technically they can initially. However, I always tell my staff that you will know you have influence on others, when they do what is expected when you’re not around.  Many Safety Professionals can force compliance, but can’t force behavior and attitude.  When you leave people with no choice, many view it as a challenge.
  • Intimidation – “My way or the highway.” This was my leadership method and style for many years. In fact, I still struggle with this.  Intimidation (through position, in my case) can produce some results.  Don’t wear safety glasses, then you’re FIRED!!  However, this method doesn’t yield great results in the long run.  TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.
  • Manipulation – “There is a winner and a loser;” “You scratch my back, I scratch yours.” Manipulation only creates unrealistic expectations and promises.  Once those promises can’t be met, your employees are done with you.  You have lost your ability to influence.
  • Position – “Follow because we have to.” Your position can generate a desired outcome, simply based off of your position.  However, it is not lasting.  People need to follow because they want to.  Your position can be a great starting point in adding value to those you lead or want to lead.

SO, what does it take to become a person of influence?

 A Person of Influence:

As Safety Professionals, we influence every day. Think about it. Every time we talk, train, coach, or present, we have an opportunity to influence.  It is important to become a person of influence.  In John Maxwell’s book, “How to Become a Person of Influence,” he uses the acronym I.N.F.L.U.E.N.C.E.R. to outline what it takes to become a person of influence.

 Integrity – Enron was an energy company based in Houston. It employed over 22,000 employees and was named the most innovative company for six consecutive years by Fortune Magazine.  However, in the span of 24 days in 2001, this company with claimed revenues of over $100 billion was declared bankrupt.  What happened?  The lack of integrity in the leadership of Enron caused one of the greatest corporations in the US to fall like a house of cards. The accounting scandal in Enron had enabled it to misrepresent its revenues and hide its losses in subsidiary organizations. Soon this became public. As a result there was a massive layoff. Everyone began not only loosing their jobs, they would soon find out that they also lost their retirement funds.  

7 years later in 2008, the same greed and lack of integrity caused many giant investment banks to fall apart, sending ripples throughout the financial world. The investment bankers never learned from what happened in Enron and while the times were different, the problem was the same.  The problem was and is integrity. If you have integrity, you will be successful. I believe a person of integrity will be successful.  I heard integrity explained this way…”Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do.”

Nurtures – To nurture someone is to motivate and encourage. A person who nurtures another, will provide leadership in many aspects of their personal and professional life.  They will nurture them in the good times and in the bad times.

 Faith  – Have faith that others will do the right thing.  This has been a difficult thing for me.  I worked in the prison systems for 9 years before moving into the safety profession.  In prison, everyone had an excuse or was innocent.  I have learned to have faith in people until they give you a reason not to.

Listens – Listen to people.  When people feel they’re being listened to and heard, they feel their thoughts, actions, and suggestions are being followed up on.  Listen to what is NOT being said.  Many times, employees are not willing to come out and say what they feel, but rather give clues as to what they feel and believe.

Understands- Harry Truman said, “When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, what he is trying to do, nine times out of 10 he is trying to do right.”  Understanding is what drives our workforce and the people we lead. It ensures we create an atmosphere where their thoughts, actions, and desires are integrated into our vision and plans.  I frequently tell my staff to “get in the box, close the flaps and roll around a while, then think outside the box.” Only when we have experienced what our team is experiencing, will we ever be able to lead them.

Enlarges – Mentor those you lead.  Freely share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences with your staff.  Give them assignments that stretch their capabilities as well as recognition.  Give credit where credit is due.  Place your staff and employees in a position to succeed. From there, you can influence your way to leadership.  Realize you can’t enlarge everyone. Identify those who have the skill and a desire to be mentored.

Navigates – Provide direction.  Have a clear understanding of where you, the department, and company are going and clearly and concisely communicate that.  Where are you going? How are you going to get there? Have you thought about the course? Be willing to make course corrections. Stay with your people through thick and thin. They must know you have their back.

 Connects – A person of influence connects with people.  Don’t take people for granted, posses a “make a difference mindset,” stay in touch with your people, look for common ground, respect differences in personalities, find out what makes them “tick”, be sincere in your communications, and share common experience. Once you have connected with an individual, stay connected.

Empowers – Set them up for success.  Make sure they know you trust their decisions and actions.  Remember you can’t empower everyone. Make sure you are in the right position, have a working relationship, have the respect of the person you are empowering, and are committed to the process through the good and bad times.  When you empower people, you’re not influencing just them; you’re influencing all the people they influence.

Reproduces – Raise up leaders who reproduce leaders.  Influencers reproduce other influencers. Develop your own leadership potential and find others with leadership potential. Teach to be a leader and not just to perform tasks… and then MULTIPLY!!!

Our ability to influence is directly proportional to the value we add to those within our leadership realm.  If you want to lead, you must influence, because without followers you cannot be a leader.

I think it was John Hancock who said, “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” I fully believe that is true. Influence is created by building relationships that create trust. Influence can only begin when there is trust in the relationship.