Don’t Be a Liar in 2016, Identify Principles, Not Resolutions

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As you consider 2016, commit to what makes you better, not what makes you a liar.

Resolutions will make a liar out of you every time!  Instead, focus on the things you can control and achieve. It is all about your principles.

Here are 11 principles I am committed to in 2016.

  • SET WRITTEN GOALS –  Have WRITTEN goals that are achievable, but stretch you personally and professionally.  However, make sure you have some that are easy wins.  The easy wins motivate me to attack the more difficult one’s.
  • BECOME A BETTER COMMUNICATOR – Learn to listen more and ask great questions.  I had this on my list last year. Biggest issue I have.  I love to hear my own voice.  However, I found I can help more people by listening more than talking and engaging that person with relevant smart questions.  As a better listener, I can serve those I lead and company employees better and more effectively.
  • BECOME MORE ENGAGED – I continue to believe that every professional must be engaged in the work of those they lead, or as a safety professional, we must truly understand what people do, how they do it and what barriers exist.  You can’t influence if you don’t know how to add value!!  I put over 35,000 miles on my vehicle visiting locations and employees!
  • BE MORE PATIENT – Learn to be more patient with people and be more patient for the desired results.  Another challenge for me. Realize that it takes time to see results.  Leaders are leading to change a culture.  It takes time to change the way people think. Know what you want the end result to be and work steadily and patiently towards that.
  • BREAK DOWN BARRIERS – Identify what is creating friction.  Is it a person? a process?, lack of communication? Departments or individuals with competing agendas can slow or stall goals and affect company and individual performance.  Realize we are not in competition with each other, but rather we are in competition with the competition.  Be transparent, share information and help others succeed.  Zig Ziglar said;

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

  • BECOME RESILIENT TO FAILURE – Along the same thought process as patience, you must become resilient to failure.  beresilient-pocketcards-new1-1020x1020_4403_700x700Learn to fail forward.  Your approach to failure will have an impact on the outcome.  Embrace the failure and use it to gain success.
  • BE PROACTIVE – Become more aware of trends within the organization.  By listening to the talk and becoming aware of people’s actions, the words they choose and the trends within the industry, you can create or make changes to programs, goals and training that allows you to stay ahead of the “game”.  For Safety Professionals like myself, that means a reduction of risk resulting in less incidents.
  • TAKE MORE CHANCES -Ready, Fire, Aim!!! Doesn’t everyone in my group and company hear that a lot.  Just ask them.    I learned this term 25 years ago at another company. I believe if you don’t take chances, you won’t be successful.  John Maxwell says, “first always wins”.  Be creative.  Think differently to solve problems or make things better. Identify what needs to be done, DO IT and we will improve it.  If you never do it, you will never know the result.
  • NETWORK MORE – Networking is the single greatest activity you can do to increase your net worth.  My connection to an individual, put me in the position I hold now.  I now make more money and have the best job  I’ve ever had!  It is frequently said that “it is not what you know but who you know”.  It amazes my how many professionals do not make an effort to network.  I lost my job in November 2008.  It was through a former associate that I received my next job.  Networking is crucial for career advancement and recognition as a true professional or expert.  BE ACTIVE ON LINKED and keep your profile up to date.  I am consistently surprised (shouldn’t be) at how many professionals (especially sales) do not even have a LinkedIn profile.  You never know when you will need help and who can help!
  • VOLUNTEER/SERVE MORE – Become active in your community, professional organizations, church , etc.  JUST VOLUNTEER!!  I volunteer on a couple of boards, I am President Elect (President in second half of year) for my local professional organization, AVP for the Regional Professional Organization, speak for free at multiple organizations and conferences,  and volunteer my time with the local high schools in the OKC area.  I believe this builds character and humility while making others better.
  • INVEST IN YOURSELF – How can you lead others, if you don’t grow your yourself?  You can’t!!  READ,READ, READ…………….fiction and non-fiction.  Reading stimulates the brain and expands your creativity.  I use to hate to read, now I love it.  invest-in-yourself-600x300My goal is to read at least 1 new book per month.  Reading gives me a lot of my ideas and creates a sense of knowledge for solving most problems.  If I don’t know the answer, I read.  Commit to attending meetings, conferences and training that stretches you and provides a greater expansion of your personal and professional knowledge.

I quit making New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago. Ok, Ok, Ok, I will eat less fatty foods, cut down on the sweets (maybe) and exercise  more.  I never succeeded or followed through with many of my new year’s resolutions.  Instead, I’ve learned to identify things I would do daily, monthly or throughout the year to make me an overall better person.

That’s how I  came up with these 11 things.  This isn’t the first time I wrote these.  This has been my life for the last few years.  These 11 principles continue to mold and shape me and will make meFotosearch_k12215246 a better husband, father, GRANDFATHER (in April), professional, leader and overall a better person.

What about you? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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