3 CORES OF SELF-LEADERSHIP

“If you wouldn’t follow yourself, why would anyone else?”

John C. Maxwell

LEADERS ARE PASSIONATE TO LEAD!

But when we say we “are passionate” to lead, we usually mean we are passionate to lead others.

One thing leaders need to realize is that leadership begins with you. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.

Why is leading myself more difficult than leading others? Why do I say or do things I know are wrong (there is a biblical reference here)? It happens at home, at work, with my wife, co-workers, and those I love and lead. So while I speak of myself, I am sure I’m not alone. 

The answer is simple. 

I believe there are times I don’t see myself from a realistic point. I see myself from my intentions, and others see me through my actions and words. I should probably also admit that I see my intentions from the training and talks I give.

Self-leadership is defined as “the process of influencing one’s self to establish the self-direction and self-motivation needed to perform.

Self-leadership is the foundation for leadership, but unfortunately, it’s not the fun part. On the contrary, it’s most challenging. Still, self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for exceptional leadership. 

Tough Truths About Self-Leadership

Before we dive into some ways to lead ourselves, let me share a few more tough truths about self-leadership.

  • No one cares more about your personal development than you do
  • You can’t wait for someone to lead you
  • No one owes you leadership
  • No one is responsible for your leadership development

3 CORES of Self-Leadership 

Here are what I believe are the cores of developing self-leadership.

Character

Who are YOU when no one is looking? 

  • It requires YOUR attention to how you act and react
  • It means expecting more from YOURSELF than others do
  • It means exceeding everyone’s expectations

The question to ask YOURSELF, “What qualities do you want to be accurate within your character? 

Discipline

Don’t talk about it, do it!

  • Identify what needs to change
  • Take the initiative.
  • Read voraciously. Explore what others think
  • Be a lifelong learner, and be passionate about it.
  • Surround yourself with mentors and people more intelligent than you.

The question to ask YOURSELF, “What are the three things I can do to improve my personal and professional growth?” 

Self-awareness

  • Know your strengths & weaknesses
  • Seek coaching 
  • Identify mentors
  • Constantly evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation

The question to ask YOURSELF, “Where do my choices take me?”

So What, Now What

As leaders, we must never forget to self-manage our actions. Whether it is a situation or a person, we react results from our leadership frame of mind. 

Failure to manage your self-leadership will create a loss of respect and the inability to influence, causing people to leave and follow others. On the other hand, if you lead yourself correctly, you will influence others, and they will follow. 

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

John Wooden

Take the time to evaluate your self-leadership, focusing on these 3 CORES. Then establish a process where you consistently work to apply these principles and improve.

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.”

 If you can take hold of this, you will be an effective leader. 

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

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

You Won’t Be A Fool If You Approach Culture Change This Way

“Only a Fool Never Changes His Mind”

RICHARD BRANSON

Everything we do within our professional and personal lives involves change. Everyone one of us (regardless of our position or role) plays an integral part in changing culture.  

As people leaders, we need to know how to achieve our change without creating a toxic environment, and we must quickly identify and address all the blind spots (there are always many, never none). These two things will sabotage our efforts. 

In his book The Culture Solution, Mathew Kelly writes, “For too many leaders, culture isn’t important until it’s urgent.” And that’s often the case. For many, but maybe some (you know whom I am referring to), it’s not that you disagree that change is essential or it’s not that you don’t see the need to make changes. It’s simply that you are focusing on the bottom line. Why change anything if you are already successful? As a safety professional, I get these comments constantly. “We haven’t had anyone get anything in their eyes, or anyone complain about air quality, so why should we spend the money if there is no risk?”

Leading culture change requires patience and persistence. Patience, because it takes time. Persistence because cultivating a culture change requires a robust daily effort. With an intentional, persistent,consistent effort, you can cultivate healthier habits and behaviors that, over time, lead to a thriving, sustainable culture. 

Let me share some cultural insights with you:

  • Culture is most important to a company. 10:1 to the vision
  • People Leaders determine the culture
  • People follow your example
  • Moral authority to what say and back it up with life
  • Culture is the personality of the company

So how do we successfully form a culture? A thriving culture is formed through these basic approaches :

  1. Behaviors
  2. Symbols
  3. Systems

Behaviors 

  • focuses on serving those who do the work.
  • Know “Who does What and Why.”
  • Show your Commitment – always under-promise and over-deliver (Exceed Expectations)

Symbols

  • Not about the corporate office; it’s about the field
  • Not bout your position title; it’s about your ability to build respect and trust
  • Not about the money you make or the car you drive; it’s about adding value to your team

Systems

  • Quit belching out the bologna and bring home the bacon.
  • Success is always in the active stage to building a sustainable culture

SO WHAT/NOW WHAT

As leaders, we don’t want to be viewed as a fool because we were not successful in changing the culture. By the way, many organizations fail in their attempt to change the culture. It’s as important to approach the change in a manner that fully engages the workforc3 and creates respect and trust. If people don’t trust you, you can’t add value, and you become the FOOL!

“Change is the law of life. And those who look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

JOHN F. KENNEDY

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

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

Answering These 4 Questions Will Increase Your Future

“Asking the right questions is as important as answering them.”

BENOIT MANDELBROT

Being a leader in regular times can be a challenge. Being a leader in a crisis can be a complicated challenge. Successful leadership in regular times is hard enough. Trying to figure out what to do during a global crisis is CRAZY!

The best approach to embrace the current situation is to do what is right and ensure you protect your family, friends, and yourself. It also means doing what is necessary to increase your professional efficiency through leadership. But I think the biggest challenge is how we approach the future. Things aren’t going to be the same. 

I like what Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, said,

The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.” 

I believe he is right on. Questions will generate answers, and answers will generate our actions. I think most of us have some frustrations due to the situation; I know I have. You’ve probably have heard more angry voices in your head and in your ears than ever before. Again, I know I have.  

To help reduce your frustrations and to be able to take the stance of a healthy and efficient leader, here are four questions to consider to outline the future.  

What can I change?

Think back to all those things pre-COVID things you wished you could change or stop doing. Maybe you didn’t change them because you didn’t realize you wanted or needed to change. Maye you but didn’t have the commitment, courage, or energy to make it happen. Well, now’s the time. Normal is gone, Now is the perfect time to make new things happen!  

You must figure out what needs to change and how to effectively make the change happen!

How would you approach a new role in these times?

It can be hard to transition into a new role. Old vehicles wouldn’t do well well in new air emission eras. 

I spoke at conferences and events as part of my pre-COVID life. I haven’t spoken at a live event since February 2020. Everything now is virtual. I’ve had to learn to embrace the fact that you can’t walk through the audience and hug people and shake their hands. My daughter and her family moved to Athens, Greece. Since the beginning of February, my wife and I haven’t seen my son-in-law, daughter, or grandkids in person. 

With COVID positives seeing a surge and mandatory quarantines coming back into play in place, I don’t know when speaking in person will come back or when I will be able to see my grandkids.

If you were launching as a speaker right now, how would you approach it? If you had family out of the country, how would you maintain strong relationships?

Once you know the answer to those questions, I think you will understand your new approach and succeed.  

Existing leaders who think differently and embrace change will have a much better future than their counterparts. 

Where does the real momentum lie?

Momentum is the product of the mass and the velocity of an object. Here is a more simpler definition; strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events. It might feel like you have no momentum anywhere, but that won’t be true for most people. (If it is true—the problems are much deeper than a global crisis.) All of us have some kind of momentum going on. Maybe it is different than before, but it is happening.

For example, you might be focused on getting people back in the offices because that’s where you feel you historically had momentum. The concern is, we focus so much on the past that we become fixated on trying to re-manufacture previous situations that we miss the opportunity to look at things differently. A good example is remote workers. Due to being forced to have people work from home, many organizations have found that remote workers are more productive, have a stronger moral, and seem to be a lot happier working from home. Sure, there are challenges, but remote workers can be just as productive or even more productive when given flexibility.

You probably have momentum somewhere. Figure it out. Study it. Determine why that momentum is growing and the benefits and how to maximize it’s potential.

If you want to exceed your goals, fuel what’s growing, not what’s declining.

If you choose to stay where you are, soon, you’re staring out the window watching the future pass you buy.

Can I sustain the pace?

I’m running into so many exhausted and frustrated leaders right now. Look, I’ve been there myself. Most leaders look to mental time off or vacation to reduce frustration and improve energy. I that approach will never give you enough time off to recover from the stress and frustration. I believe time off can revise your energy and reduce stress temporarily. Here is another example. I am a member of my organization’s COVID Sub-Committee. Our fundamental role is to assist our employees in dealing with COVID related issues. I recently took a few days off. When I returned back to the work environment, the stress and frustration beat me there. I believe we need to take time off and continue to build relationships with family and enjoy the life we have, but time off isn’t going to change your unsustainable pace.

You have to consider how you approach and react to each situation, whether temporary or drawn out. Making necessary mental and physical adjustments to create a sustainable pace is the solution! 

I suggest we ask the question, “how can I create a sustainable pace?”  In my personal approach to eliminate burnout, I make constant adjustments to achieve this phrase:

lead today in a way that you will exceed tomorrow.”

Most leaders lead in a way that will make them struggle tomorrow. We all have to work more hours, which affects our diet, reduces our exercise time and our ability to build our relationships. However, our desire is to find a sustainable pace heading to successfully achieve your personal and professional goals during this crisis and beyond.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

Moving forward, ask yourself: what changes can I make to ensure I exceed expectations in this current crisis and beyond? 

Your answers and resultant actions to these 5 questions are critical to your future success. We have to change, and we must maximize our momentum. Think about stopping a train and what effort it takes to get it moving again. The changes we make will determine our ability to lead others through this time of crisis and change.

The True Test of Leadership Is The Ability To Grow

“The truest test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis”

– BRIAN TRACY

The sun is so hot on my face as I lay in the warm sand with the breeze blowing across my body. As I open my eyes, I see nothing but blue skies and the shimmering crystal clear water. I hear the sounds of seagulls, waves crashing onto the shore. I stand up and can feel the warm sand between my toes as I walk back to my chair and reach for my umbrella drink………………BUT wait, what is that? I hear a siren. All of a sudden I shake my head and realize I was daydreaming and the siren brought me back to the reality of the crisis we are currently experiencing.

With the extended voluntary and required lockdowns, I am sure many of you find yourself daydreaming, just like I did. But in this time of crisis, we need to focus on growing our leadership to ensure we take care of our people and those around us. 

The crisis we are currently experiencing is about the people we lead and their families. As I think of topics to write about, I realize we cannot be validated as a leader if we are not committed to to continual growth.

I’ve identified 9 ways to grow your leadership.

It’s about others

There is a great deal of fear, anxiety, and even anger going around. Remember that we are all humans. Regardless of your position, you are experiencing some of the same issues your team is experiencing. Look for ways to recognize other’s anxiety, concerns, and frustrations and find ways to reach out and show compassion.

Focus on what you can control

Don’t waste time and energy on issues you can’t control or influence. Focus on actions that produce value for your team, customers, organization, and your family.

LEAD don’t react 

Determine the direction to go and take your people there. Don’t be reactionary. Be intentional. Lead your people.

Leaders are transparent

The people you lead want to know what’s going on and how it will work out. It doesn’t matter if you believe this is overblown or the most significant health crisis in the world. Leaders define the stories that people tell themselves. Be intentional in your transparency to your team.

Identify new customer needs 

Talk to your customers. Find out how this crisis is impacting them. Are there new services or products that you can offer that are helpful at this time? Be flexible and consider all options to make your services more value-added to your customers.

Innovative solutions and partnerships

If your business is slowing down, can you share employees with a company that is temporarily picking up? Be creative.

Communicate 

Communicate encouragement, hope, and solutions. Talk to your employees, customers, and suppliers. In times of crisis, people want two things: Accurate information and empathy. Some people lean towards information. Others lean towards compassion. But give both. Communicate frequently, repeatedly, and openly. You aren’t likely to communicate too much, but it’s easy not to communicate enough.

Embrace the change

With the current crisis, change is inevitable. Look for ways to improve. People are expecting changes. We are in a time to implement change, especially if it brings more value to your customers, employees, or business.

Take care of yourself 

Get enough sleep, eat right, and be grateful. Remember to breathe and move your body. Limit exposure to the anxiety of others, especially news and social media.

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

6 Safety Leadership Attributes Most Effective in Changing Behaviors

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

MARK TWAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kickstart Your Approach to Behavior Change With These 10 Quotes

2020 is here. The new numbers ring in a new year and a new decade! With a new year comes new goals, new thoughts, and many start and stop diets (referring to me). With a new decade comes the opportunity to identify and redefine your long-term vision. Being a Safety Professional, I wanted to share some motivational quotes that will help you influence others and begin to change behaviors.

  1. “Let Today Be The Day You Give Up Who You’ve Been For Who You Will Become.” – Hal Elrod. Get rid of the poor attitude and cynical approach with people. Work to connect, build relationships, create trust, add value, and you will be in a position to influence others. A new year and decade is an excellent opportunity to change negative behavior.
  2. “The New Year Stands Before Us, Like A Chapter In A Book, Waiting to be Written.” – Melody Beattie. What are your goals, personally, and from a business standpoint? What you strive to become personally has a tremendous effect on what you achieve in business. What are you going to do to influence others and change behaviors?
  3. “If you Don’t Like The Road You’re Walking, Start Paving Another One.” – Dolly PartonThe road we take will lead us to our destination. If your destination isn’t what you thought it would be, then change it now! Sometimes the programs we develop and implement aren’t effective in changing behaviors. Take a moment this new year and re-evaluate where you’re going and change direction where needed. I always go back to Robert Frost’s Poem, “The Road Not Taken” and determine if I am on the right path to success.
  4. The Future Belongs To Those Who Believe In The Beauty of Their Dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. What is your dream? What is the path to accomplishing them? As a safety professional, I spend much of my time in the field talking with the workforce, interacting with them, and engaging them in identifying what is of value to them. I use this information to determine what must change, what must improve, and what development needs I have. Each new year, I take what I’ve learned and made adjustments to my approach, vision, and strategic plan, which is a critical path to achieving my dreams. If I believe it, then I will do whatever it takes to complete it!
  5. “Don’t Count the Days, Make the Days Count.” – Muhammad Ali. Are you making every day count and every interaction meaningful? Interacting with the workforce and explaining the “why” is essential to achieving change. I’ve found that when I focus my time and effort on what matters, I tend to deliver more than I planned.
  6. “You are Never Too Old To Set A Goal Or To Dream A New Dream.” – C.S. Lewis.” Throughout my life and career, I have always looked for opportunities to grow my self and my experience. The Safety Profession must be willing to continually improve in what we do and how we do it. The Safety Professional must be ready to grow in their knowledge, training, and insight. You don’t know what you don’t know, but you know what you know but aren’t willing to implement what you’ve learned. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” Always be open to doing things differently.
  7. “I Like The Dreams Of The Future Better Than The History Of The Past.” – Thomas Jefferson. Yesterday ended last night, get over it! Don’t focus on the results of the past, but focus on the opportunities to improve the future. I wish companies didn’t focus on lagging indicators but instead focused on ensuring everyone is engaged in the activities that will reduce or eliminate the numbers. I know many of our bonuses’ are tied all or part to the numbers. However, in my career, I’ve learned to focus on what will change behavior vs. what will change the names.
  8. “People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much YOu Care.” – Teddy Roosevelt. – I focused my early career on making sure everyone knew I knew everything. WRONG APPROACH! What I learned was that people don’t care that you know what you know, but you are willing to help them achieve their goals. It is like writing an Energy Isolation Procedure, implementing and then find out no one is using or following it because it doesn’t make sense or apply to their environment. Show you care by engaging the workforce and getting buy-in.
  9. “People Will Only Work to The Level Of Safety That You Expect, Nothing More, Nothing Less.” – Denis Baker. You can have the best well-written policies and procedures, the most effective training, and the greatest implementation process in the world. Still, if the expectations are not communicated clearly, people will do what they want, good or bad, right or wrong. I teach people in leadership roles to set high expectations and then hold people responsible for achieving and abiding by them. If not, they must be held accountable.
  10. You Can’t Change A Culture Or Behaviors From Behind a Desk.” – Denis Baker. Make it your priority this year to spend the vast majority of your time engaging and conversing with the workforce and building relationships with your leadership. You can be the best policy and procedure writer, but if you don’t connect and build relationships, you won’t be able to change the way people think when they approach a job or task. Remember this. You can get all the buy-in and support from the leadership you want, but unless you have the support and buy-in from those who do the work, there is no way to achieve success.

Success is what we achieve through others. As you dig into 2020, I encourage you to evaluate yourself and look for opportunities to improve and change. Be passionate about what you believe and do, and you will influence others to change their behaviors, and ultimately, the culture will change.

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

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

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

Denis Baker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I ended my conversation by saying, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACHIEVING CHANGE IN AN UNCHANGEABLE ENVIRONMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Influential Leaders Never Use These Phrases

Believe me when I tell you that I can offend even when it is meant for praise. We’ve all said things that people interpreted much differently than we thought they would. These seemingly benign comments lead to the awful feeling that only comes when you’ve planted your foot firmly into your mouth.I recently read an article by Travis Bradbury, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It offered insight into what to say in a conversation. I thought I would share some highlights with you. 


1. “You look tired” – Tired people are incredibly unappealing — they have droopy eyes and messy hair, they have trouble concentrating, and they’re as grouchy as they come. Telling someone he looks tired implies all of the above and then some. Instead say: “Is everything okay?”

2. “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!” – Once again, a well-meaning comment—in this case a compliment—creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive. Instead say: “You look fantastic.”

3. “You were too good for her anyway” – When someone severs ties with a relationship of any type, personal or professional, this comment implies he has bad taste and made a poor choice in the first place. Instead say: “Her loss!”

4. “You always . . .” or “You never . . .” – No one always or never does anything. People don’t see themselves as one-dimensional, so you shouldn’t attempt to define them as such. These phrases make people defensive and closed off to your message, which is a really bad thing because you likely use these phrases when you have something important to discuss. Instead say: Simply point out what the other person did that’s a problem for you. Stick to the facts. If the frequency of the behavior is an issue, you can always say, “It seems like you do this often.” or “You do this often enough for me to notice.”

5. “You look great for your age”– Using “for your” as a qualifier always comes across as condescending and rude. No one wants to be smart for an athlete or in good shape relative to other people who are also knocking on death’s door. People simply want to be smart and fit. Instead say: “You look great.”

6. “As I said before . . .” –  We all forget things from time to time. This phrase makes it sound as if you’re insulted at having to repeat yourself, which is hard on the recipient (someone who is genuinely interested in hearing your perspective). Instead say: When you say it again, see what you can do to convey the message in a clearer and more interesting manner. This way they’ll remember what you said.

7. “Good luck”– This is a subtle one. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if you wish someone good luck, but you can do better because this phrase implies that they need luck to succeed. Instead say: “I know you have what it takes.”

8. “It’s up to you” or “Whatever you want” – While you may be indifferent to the question, your opinion is important to the person asking (or else he wouldn’t have asked you in the first place). Instead say: “I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but a couple things to consider are . . .”

9. “Well at least I’ve never…” – This phrase is an aggressive way to shift attention away from your mistake by pointing out an old, likely irrelevant mistake the other person made (and one you should have forgiven her for by now). Instead say: “I’m sorry.”

In everyday conversation, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Try these suggestions out, and you’ll be amazed at the positive response you get.

INITIATIVE MAKES A LEADER, 30 Quotes That Encourages One to Take Initiative

InitiativeInitiative is something I write on often.  In fact, my last blog was on initiative, the concept of Ready, Fire, Aim. I continue to write on this subject, because it is something that seems to be lacking in the workforce and leaders in general.  And honestly, it is an area I seem to struggle in.

By definition, leaders cannot wait.  If they do, they are not leaders, but merely followers. I think initiative takes a little bit of faith bathed in risk.  Many times, you must take initiative on something with limited knowledge or insight and rely mostly on your intuition , or “gut felling”.

For those who want to be successful and effective leaders, one must take initiative.  If we never try, we will never know.  In fact, one will always be wondering, “what if”.

The hardest thing about taking initiative, is well, taking initiative.  To help motivate and encourage you to take more initiative, here are 30 quotes that will encourage you to take initiative.

  1. “Genius is initiative on fire”, Holbrook Jackson
  2. “Initiative is doing the right things without being told”, Elbert Hubbard
  3. “Without initiative, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions”, Bo Bennett
  4. “Employers and business leaders need people who can think for themselves – who can take initiative and be the solution to problems”, Stephen Covey
  5. Never relinquish the initiative, Charles de Gaulle
  6. “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit”, Conrad Hilton
  7. Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome. You must be willing to fire, T. Boone Pickens
  8. “I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I have not”, Lucille Ball
  9. “If you don’t make dust, you eat dust”, Motto of Jack A. MacAllister
  10. “Eagles don’t flock”,Ross Perot
  11. Even if you’re on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there, Will Rogers
  12. “An idea is worthless unless you use it”, John Maxwell
  13. “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved”, William Jennings Bryan
  14. “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it”, Jonathan Winters
  15. “Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference”, Nolan Bushnell
  16. If opportunity doesn’t knock- build a door”-Milton Berle
  17. “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there”, Edwin Louis Cole
  18. “When eagles are silent, parrots begin to chatter”, Winston Churchill
  19. “Initiative is to success what a lighted match is to a candle”, Orlando Battista
  20. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”, Walt Disney
  21. “The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch”, Jim Rohn
  22. “Most people spend their entire lives on a fantasy island called ‘Someday I’ll”, Denis Waitley
  23. “Chance favors those in motion”, James Austin
  24. “Just begin and the mind grows heated; continue, and the task will be completed!”, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  25. “Two sure ways to fail: Think and never do, or do and never think”, Zig Ziglar
  26. “You can’t do everything at once, but you can do something at once”, Zig Ziglar
  27. “If you want to accomplish anything in life, you can’t just sit back and hope it will happen. You’ve got to make it happen”, Chuck Norris
  28. “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great”, Les Brown
  29. “Implement now, perfect later”, Larry Winget
  30. The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”, William Faulkner

Initiative and Success