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.

YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A LEADER? SELF MANAGEMENT


Building_leadership
The last few months of my professional experience and interaction with company employees has been well……CHALLENGING. We’ve grown fast, adding people, increasing production. That is good.  However, growing fast means you add people fast.  Some are very good, others are well……..CHALLENGING.

As I reflect back o the last few months, I realized that I have to remember my own self-management.  I realized that being a leader is well…..CHALLENGING.  I found that leadership is truly a 24/7 job.  In fact, leaders must practice the art of influence every time, all the time.  If you sway, you will fall back into the same practices of those you lead.

Here is an example;

Due to our growth, we opened an additional manufacturing facility.  That meant weLeadership-challenges-with-technical-teams needed leaders and employees.  We tapped into a retired individual that was familiar with a lot of our executives and had significant experience in manufacturing.  It meant that he would be in charge of securing the location, ensuring the building was ready for manufacturing and recruiting people to build the product.  This was all accomplished, however the way he went about accomplishing this was not what I expected.  For one, he went to his former employer and convinced a large group to come over and work for us.  This occurred without any discussions or insight into our hiring process.  That meant that we had employees showing up for work without being fully authorized and without going through orientation, etc.  This frustrated me greatly.  In fact, I immediately grew dissatisfied and refused to accommodate him.  He continued to defy our policies and procedures and was causing a lot of dissension between employees. I found myself resisting his ideas and refusing to support him.  This was greatly affecting who I was as a leader.  It was noticeable and my attitude was not very good.  My employees closest to me were asking what was wrong with me, why was I  letting this guy get to me?

I realized that I was the problem.  That I had the knowledge and ability to immediately change this situation.  I was the company leadership example.  I mean, I train on leadership.  Employees were looking to me for direction and they were watching my reactions to this guy’s actions.

As I began to think and meditate on the situation, I realized that I had done a poor job of self-management.  I had temporarily walked away from what I know about leadership and the very things that I teach others.

I realized that a leader’s greatest challenge is self-management. I also found that my leadership must be right on for others to follow.  I must alway add value, in every situation in order to influence people.  Remember, leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. I needed to be a strong leader, influencing this person to follow the rules, to communicate his thoughts and desires, to provide the required feedback (positive or negative). I realized that if I lead myself the correct way, others will follow.  If I do not lead, or if you lead poorly, you’ll push people away.  Even those who you consistently influence become frustrated.  They see your frustration and act in a similar manner.  Eventually, you will push them away.   These are the very people you need as examples for those who aren’t on board yet.

As we consider self-management, I like to follow the three areas as provided by John Maxwell.    Here they are, with my flair and take.

  1. Emotions – Like anyone else, leaders experience powerful emotions. However, good leaders know when to display emotions and when to delay them. I often hear people question leaders that show powerful emotions.  I say that those emotions must be timely.  They must be displayed in the appropriate situations.  The wrong emotion at the wrong time, can do significant damage.  The right emotion at the right time, can produce incredible results. Leaders must hold their emotions in check until an appropriate time and place. Remember, the ultimately goal in leadership is adding value.  Emotions can add or detract value based on the way they are displayed.
  2. Thoughts – Leaders are thinkers. Thoughts are critical to making sound decisions. If you are too busy to spend time in thought, your decision making ability is affected.  A good leader must allow time for gathering and organizing our thoughts.  Throughout the day, write down those things you need to revisit. Set aside some time daily to resist those items and think through them.  In fact, I suggest that you spend time weekly removed from distraction and meditate on those items.  I really believe successful leaders are thinkers.  By thinking through things, you are able to form great questions.  I believe great questions are the sign of a good leader.
  3. Energy –  Successful people are high energy people.  However, high energy levels can create problems, both for you and for those who you influence. I am driven to accomplishment.  I tend to focus on achievement.  In fact, I measure my daily performance by what I accomplished. I tend to over-achieve and overwhelm people.  In my training with the John Maxwell group, I realized that I must focus my efforts on what provides the greatest result.  To ensure I focus on the right things, I start every day reviewing my calendar and identifying the one or two activities that require the greatest amount of energy.  I focus my energy on them and sandbag the rest of the day.  No I don’t give them less effort, but I am slow and steady to complete these projects.  It is ok if they don’t get finished that day. I cannot afford to expend my energy on situations or people pulling me down as a leader.  I must always approach those in a positive manner that results in influence and ultimately, my leadership.

CONCLUSION

Being in leadership is well…….CHALLENGING!!  As leaders, we must always remember to self-manage our own actions and ensure we are always leading.  whether it is a situation or a person, the way we react is a direct result of our leadership frame of mind.  Follow the three things mention above (emotions, thoughts and energy) to ensure you are self-managing yourself.  I found if I follow these three areas, I am prepared to handle any situation that may come my way.

Jim Rhone once said, “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  I think if we can take hold of this, we can all be effective leaders who are up to the challenge.

Become a good self-manager and become a good leader.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Every have a day where every decision is yours?  Even when you have people who should be making them?  Well this week has been one of those weeks for me.  I have had several decisions to make, that people should

Decisionknow the answer or should be able to come up with the appropriate answer.  Heck, come up with n answer EVEN if it’s wrong!  Can we move the conference call?  Does this person need to be trained? Does this piece of equipment need a guard?  Can we start someone today and do orientation next week?

What the heck!!!  I am strategic thinker, I don’t have time for this non-sense!

Well, maybe you do.  I found myself getting frustrated,  then I realize they are looking to me for direction.  Maybe they don’t feel comfortable with their answer.  Maybe they don’t feel comfortable with my reaction to their answers.  People will answer questions and make decisions only if they feel confident in their answers or decisions.

Decision CartoonSo how do we as leaders ensure our people feel comfortable and confident to answer questions and make decisions?  Here are 5 ways to accomplish this.

  1. Make Sure Everyone Understands the Expectations – Your employees must know the parameters for making decisions.  A leader’s expectations are critical to great performance.  You must be willing to outline the expectations and let your people make decisions and answer questions.  Always leave the door open for them to come ask if they don’t feel comfortable.
  2. Knowledge – Do they have the knowledge to make the decision or answer the question?  I have often found myself asking questions to a boss that is met with a “are you serious” stare.  Well yes I am, I wouldn’t ask if I knew the answer.  Employees need to have the knowledge to answer the questions, if they don’t, make sure they feel comfortable coming to you for direction.
  3. Less is More – There is all kind of research and data and this.  My take? Provide less “fat” in the details and let people make decisions.  encourage your employees to make decisions based on their knowledge and expertise.  If they are knowledgable or the expert, then encourage them to go to the correct resource.
  4. Use Your Gut – Your “gut feeling”, we all have it.  FOLLOW IT!!!  Our “gut feeling”
    is known as intuition.  Intuition is the feeling you get from the information you have.  People ar intuitive in their areas of strength and knowledge.  If the decision is based within, use your intuition to derived at the answer.
  5. READY, FIRE, AIM – My absolute favorite.  Encourage employees to make decisions based on this concept.  Professionals often times get caught up in ensuring the project, decision, etc is perforce and then never follow through or complete it.  READY, FIRE, AIM simply means that if your prepare appropriately and FIRE! Then we can easily make course corrections later to perfect it.

In the end, decisions are not always easy.  Heck, I re-wrote this ending five times!  But decisions are necessary.  Encourage your employees to make decisions on their own.  If the decision isn’t right, be supportive and encouraging in your coaching!!

THE BALANCING ACT

th

As a coach, trainer, and speaker for the John Maxwell Group, I have been researching leadership issues and strategies on a daily basis. Throughout my preparation in teaching a Mastermind group in the “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” I began thinking about how much we have on our plates and how we must learn to balance it all.   I came across the six balancing acts written by John Maxwell.

I put this together in hopes that you may read it, apply it, and live it. I have, and it works! I recently read this and fully believe that it is true, “Great leaders combine an assortment of skills into a single repertoire from which they inspire and guide their team.” Good leaders are able to somehow merge and mix contradictory traits, which they effectively include in their daily activities and interactions.

Here are the six things that I have tried to instill and follow in my own life and leadership style. These are taken directly from the John Maxwell article found in Leadership Wired.

  1. Leaders are both confident and modest – You need self-assurance to lead, but you also must be able to set aside your ego. Being a leader is not about making yourself more powerful. It’s about making the people around you more powerful. People follow leaders who have a healthy sense of self-worth, and are yet humbled by their responsibility. Egotistical leaders use others to advance their self-centered pursuit of perks, titles, and other status symbols. Eventually, they disillusion their people and stunt the growth of the company. Confident-yet-humble leaders derive satisfaction from serving others. These leaders unlock the potential of people and equip them to further the company’s mission and vision.
  2. Leaders communicate passionately and listen patiently – Listening to others improves ideas, sends alerts to unforeseen issues, and allows for closer relationships with employees.  Listed below are some important quotes on listening. “Big people monopolize the listening, small people monopolize the talking.”  “Listening is the way to gain wisdom, because everything you say, you already know.”  Effective Leaders allow others to tell them what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear.” One of the best ways to persuade others, is with your ears, by listening to them.”
  3. Leaders give encouragement and they are never satisfied – Effective leaders encourage people, affirm their work, and constantly push them to even greater performances.  A group’s primary motivation comes from a passionate leader who positively expresses dissatisfaction with the company’s status, along with a sincere belief that the group can take things higher. Leaders should stretch people, but they can only do so to the extent they can demonstrate care and goodwill towards those they lead.
  4. Leaders protect their people from danger, but expose them to reality – Most people want a leader who insulates them from difficulty, rather than encouraging action to overcome it. People need adversity to grow; otherwise they level out. A leader’s responsibility is NOT to protect people from EVERY difficulty, but to PARTNER with them in facing life’s trials.
  5. Leaders blaze the trail and show the way – Leaders are not afraid to buck convention and strike out in a new direction. However, they get no pleasure from living as mavericks. Leaders want to link up with others, push into new frontiers, and better guide others down the road.
  6. Leaders initiate changes while standing for values that don’t change – One job of a leader is to help people identify what habits and assumptions must change in order for the company to prosper.  At the same time, leaders must ask; which values and operations are so crucial to our core, that if we lose them we lose ourselves?

In short, leaders must bring about change without surrendering the organization’s identity.  Balancing everything in our personal and professional life is an intricate task.  However, in order to maximize enjoyment in your personal life and still maintain professional upward mobility, you must master the balancing act.

 

HUMILITY IN TIME OF DEFEAT

01fcb88

I recently wrote a piece titled, “Winning is Not Always the Measure of Defeat”.  It dealt with having high expectations and situations not turning out the way you wanted or expected.  I find myself writing on a similar topic, but really focusing on humility in the time of defeat.  Last week was the final home game for Oklahoma State University (my Alma Mater).  However, it was against University of Texas.  Texas is my home state.  So naturally there was some trash talk before the game.  Well, my trash talk.  Didn’t hear much from my family and friends.  I think they knew better.  It is better to talk trash after the game, not before it.  I quickly realized that I messed up.  We loss 28-7.  The trash talk really began, but it was them, not me.  I deserved it.  I had to take a very humble approach and admit my defeat.   It also made me think about the work and study I’ve done around humility.  Let me share some insight into humility.  An area of my life that I have personally been working on (not always my choice).

When people talk about leadership, they don’t use the word “humility” very often. More likely, they describe a leader as strong or focused or ambitious. They would probably say the leader is confident or assertive. “Humble” may not ever come up, and if it does, it might not be used as a compliment.

But I believe humility is a character trait that every leader should posses. Benjamin Franklin once said“there is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

I think without humility, no real success is possible.  You can’t lead people, without first being able to admit your mistakes.  Most leaders have an abundance of ambition, talent, and confidence, but few possess the humility necessary to sustain influence over time.  I’ve found that many leaders typically shun humility because they see it as a sign of weakness or self-doubt.  Many feel they have to be right on everything.  After all, they are in charge.  I find my character and personality tends to go down this similar path.  Personally and professionally, I find myself trying to maintain self-preservation (whole different topic) and feel if I admit fault that I might be viewed or perceived as a weak leader.  However, I consistently find that is not the case.  When I am sincerely humble, I find I gain respect, loyalty and wisdom.

How do you become a humble leader? Here are 5 things that bring about humility in a Leader.

  1. Responsibility – TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your mistakes. Humble leaders readily accept responsibility for failure.
  2. Objectivity – In the words of Ezra Taft Benson, “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.” Humble leaders do not consider their own ideas and projects to be sacred.
  3. Open-Mindedness – BE OPEN!! Humble leaders have awareness of how much they don’t know.
  4. Inspiration – Humble leaders are appreciative people.
  5. Respect – Humble leaders see life as far bigger than themselves, and add value to other people by serving them.

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

I love this old story set in the Roman Empire times.

A general returning from a great victory in battle is greeted with great acclaim by the population of the city. They cheer for him as he travels in a grand procession through the streets, hailing him as a mighty warrior and leader. But the general, aware of his own weaknesses and wanting to be sure he doesn’t get too caught up in the celebration, asks a fellow soldier to do something to keep him humble. So as the procession winds through the city streets, this soldier’s one job is to crouch on the floor of the chariot, where only the general can see and hear him, and whisper, “You’re only a man. You’re only a man. You’re only a man….”  

That general understood that he needed to avoid letting all the attention go to his head. He knew that by remaining humble, he would be able to keep growing and improving as a leader and warrior.

We should not be concerned about not who is right and who is wrong.  Leadership is about influencing people.  It is about adding value to them.  When we become humble leaders, we are able to get through the muck and mire of everyday task and situation.  We are able to put aside the “trash” talk and focus on what provides value to those we lead.  Once this occurs, we are on the path to excellence.

Great leaders are humble leaders.  Humility is a must in leadership…………NEVER FORGET THIS………………IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!!…………IT REALLY ISN’T!!!!

WINNING IS NOT ALWAYS THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS

It was an absolutely beautiful morning as we arrived at Oklahoma State University. There was a sort of excitement and anticipation in the air. Orange and Black was everywhere. Today, it was homecoming. It was getting back to my alma-mater, remembering and reminiscing about those good ‘ol days. For me, it was standing next to Old Central and looking East to Fire station #2. It was remembering the courses, the labs, long evening and nights figuring out the metric conversions to all those Borgelt papers. It was remembering great Professors, and not so great Professors. Nostalgia, it was. But was it really all that? Ummmmmm, NO, it was about beating the HECK out of West Virginia!!!!

Shortly after kickoff, it was evident this might not turn out the way I planned. The nostalgia and the memories quickly turned to frustration and anger. Were these Cowboys going to win? The answer is well, not the game. However, it made me realize that winning is not always the measure of success. You see, OSU lost 45% of their Letterman from last year. The only team in college football to hold that honor. That means there are a lot of new and inexperienced players.

So as fans, and loyal alumni, winning is our first choice, as I am sure that is the same for the OSU players, coaches and staff. Well as you can probably figure out, OSU did lose the game. But did they really lose? I don’t believe so. In our life, our profession and yes, even with our football team, winning comes in many ways. As I sat there thinking about the game and the losing performance on the field, I started thinking about what the Cowboys did accomplish during and after that game. What will make them a better team, better athletes,better students and ultimately a better person? I came up with 3 things that I believe the OSU Cowboy football team got and what you and I get out of every winning or losing situation and experience.

Clarity- There is no doubt these players gained more clarity on plays, speed, talent, etc. You see, I believe the more you understand what it takes to perform your daily activities, the more you understand your interactions with people, the more clarity you get in your leadership of employees, staff and even family. The sooner you become clear on the activities, task and relationship interactions, the sooner you will experience your desired outcomes.
Consistency- Consistency is huge. Football players perform the same drills every day in practice, they run the same plays over and over and over until they can run them with their eyes closed. Consistency creates simplicity. When you add consistency in your life and business, you add simplicity. “Practice makes Perfect”, right? The more we practice, the more consistent we become. The more consistent, the more competent we become, the more competent, the more people believe in you. The more people believe, the more they trust you. The more they trust you, the more you can influence. If you can influence someone, you can lead them.
Character – I could talk about this forever. I promise you, Character was built-in those football players on Saturday. Character is evident when things don’t necessarily go our way. Our character is much more than just what we try to display for others to see, it’s who we are even when no one is watching. It’s who we are we on the inside. Our reputation comes from what others believe about our outside. Our character represents who we are on the inside. So if we focus on being better on the inside than the outside, over time we will become better on the outside. Character is who you are and who you are determines if people will follow. If people follow, then you can influence them, if you can influence them, then you can lead them!
Whether we win or lose is really up to us. Our goal is not to keep score and count our wins and losses, it is more what insight we gain in those wins or losses.

As leaders we must realize that winning is not always the measure of success, but it is what we gain from the experience that ultimately determines the outcome.

You can learn more leadership insights by visiting my blog at wwww.leaderinfluence.net.

IMG_1604IMG_1603