CONSIDER THESE 5 INSIGHTS TO YOUR LEADERSHIP APPROACH IN 2021

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.

TAYLOR SWIFT

If you read my recent blog, “Goal Setting Questions Determine the Path Forward,” then you understand the benefits of putting together well-described goals by following the questioning process below.

Xwhere you are now, or your current reality
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish line
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish line

Well, I thought I would piggyback on that topic and share how I will approach 2021. Sure, I have put together 4 goals for 2021. However, in the last few days, I’ve had my inner self (vision) sitting on one shoulder and my outer self (reality) sitting on the other shoulder. Both gave me positive and annoying feedback on how to approach the new year. I know, it sounds weird, but this content came from them.

Being a leader in 2020 has been challenging, but we should be amazed because we have gotten through it. However, as a leader, you should be thinking of your approach in 2021. Things have changed, things will change, and new challenges will come in to play. So we need to embrace this reality and prepare to answer the question;

How do you approach your leadership in these times?

2020 didn’t turn out anywhere near where I thought it would. I hadn’t even the slightest clue the economy would fall, jobs would be lost, and travel would be minimal. I’ve said this before, my daughter’s family moved to Athens, Greece, in January, and we haven’t been able to go and visit. They haven’t been able to come back to the U.S., and my wife and I had to go through Christmas without our grandkids (we face timed). Our hearts were broken! 

I don’t expect 2021 to turn back to how it was before the crisis, but I think we need to think differently and be willing to take a different approach in our leadership. Don’t get me wrong, necessary leadership skills are still valid, but our approach must embrace the current conditions and embrace change. 

Leaders who lead in the real world tend to find success than leaders who lead in a world that doesn’t exist. No one knows the future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare. And while I have no superior insight into the future than you do, I have identified these 5 insights as my approach to 2021. 

1.     Uncertainty

The future is uncertain. Reality says that has been true since the beginning of time. Right now, nothing is predictable. Think about it, a new government and a continual crisis, who knows what will take place.

Leading through uncertainty—requires a whole new skill set. With the future being uncertain, you must lead with agility and flexibility. Those two attributes will allow you to identify change and make the necessary adjustments. 

2. Instability

Uncertainty is one thing. It removes your ability to see what’s ahead.

Instability is different. Instability means the present circumstances are volatile and unsteady. The most effective way to lead through instability is to identify the most traction and utilize your resources to maximize the outcome. The best way to create future momentum is to pour resources into anything that’s producing current momentum. That’s why restaurants are beefing up takeout and drive-thrus. 

In these unstable times, when you find momentum, keep fueling it. And keep the options open.

3.     Economic Unknown

People are spending like there’s no tomorrow and saving money at historic highs. Others on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum go broke. Who knows what’s going to happen next? And the U.S. presidential election throws an extra measure of unpredictability into the mix.

How will I approach the economic strangeness in 2021? I will prepare for a season of savings and charity. You can’t give what you don’t have.

4.     Opportunity

Opportunities always exist in a crisis. Innovation is born out of a crisis. A crisis is an accelerator of new ideas. The current crisis has generated changes such as; the emergence of the home as the new hub for fitness, schooling, work, shopping, entertainment, and church. The very obstacle you’re fearing might be the most incredible opportunity you’re facing. It all depends on how you approach it.

Obstacle or opportunity? The future belongs to those leaders who take advantage of opportunities. 

5.     Internationally Grow Yourself

I saved the most important until last, but the best thing you can do is deepen your personal growth for the year ahead. John Maxwell said, “We see the world NOT as it is, BUT as we are.”

I think the best things in life won’t ever come to us (believe me, I’ve approached much of my life that way). No, what I’ve found is I need to grab them. I don’t expect them to roll downhill to me, but instead, I have to climb the hill and grab them.

Every problem or crisis introduces one to themselves. It brings out the best and worse of us. 

The number one catalyst in growth is identifying growth areas. In life, it’s not what we get that makes us valuable. It’s what we become in the process that brings value to our lives. Action is what converts human dreams into significance. It brings personal value that we can gain from no other source.

So how do we intentionally grow ourselves? Here you go.

  • Take action
  • Re-affirm your values
  • Evaluate your character
  • Experience your inner fulfillment
  • Read books 
  • Listen to various podcast
  • Identify a mentor
  • Consider being coached 

If you want to grow yourself, your growth will thrive in these difficult times. Invest your time and effort to grow yourself intentionally. The results will be astounding!

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GOAL SETTING QUESTIONS DETERMINE THE PATH FORWARD

“A goal without a plan and timeline is just a wish”

DENIS BAKER

We are finally coming to the end of one of the most challenging years of my life! I bet many of you would say the same. 

As I look into the many variable possibilities of 2021, I realize that setting achievable goals is a critical path to achieving success. Many of us feel as if we’re floating in our world, not knowing what will come next. Most of us are hard workers, but maybe we didn’t get where we wanted in 2020, and maybe our attitude has fallen to there is nothing worthwhile.

Regardless of the future, we need to continue our goal-setting activities; whether it is personal or professional, the ability to know where we want to go will give us the skill to pick the right road going in the right direction. However, the way we approach the process determines the outcome. The process of setting goals helps identify where you want to go. By knowing specifically what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. This will enable you to quickly identify distractions that can lead you off course.

To accomplish your goals, you need to know how to clearly write them. You can’t merely say, “I want,” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that requires careful consideration of what you want, the hard to do and ends with the desired outcome. 

In recent years, I have added a phase to my goal-setting process. Not only do I identify what I want to achieve by year’s end, but I now ask questions to define the specific goal I want to achieve.

Here is my new questioning process;

Xwhere you are now, or your current reality
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish line
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish line

EXAMPLES

Let me give you some example to clarify my statement;

When the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) was developed in the 1950s, the original goal was;

“Leading the World in Space Exploration.”

When John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, he changed NASA’s goal to

“Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade is out.”

Let’s put the 1950s NASA goal through the test: “Leading the World in Space Exploration.”

Xwhere are you now, or your current reality?Unknown
Ywhere do you want to go? what will be your finish line?The word “leading” is somewhat vague.  Results undetermined.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish line?Unknown, it doesn’t list any timeline

Now let’s run JFK’s revised goal through the test: “Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade is out.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityEarth
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineMoon—with a safe return to Earth. What will be your finish line? A successful launch, landing, and re-entry.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineDecember 31, 1969.

 Looking at these two tests, which one would answer the questions below?

  1. In which decade would you have wanted to work for NASA? The 50s or the 60s?
  2. In which decade was the goal crystal clear? The 50s or the 60s?

If you focus on JFK’s revised goal, I think you know the right answers.

Let’s look at a more realistic example.

ORIGINAL GOAL – “Improve the onboarding process for new hires.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityUnknown
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineTo improve the process. Results undetermined.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineUnknown, it doesn’t list any timeline

REVISED GOAL – Reduce onboarding time for new hires by 50 percent in quarter two by establishing a detailed onboarding process with at least five training courses and three shadowing opportunities with experienced team members.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityLong onboarding process
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineReduce the time by 50%.  New hire onboarding process that includes 5 courses and three shadowing opportunities with an experienced employee
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineBy the end of the 2nd quarter

Both of these examples provide clear outcomes of asking the right questions to determine the clarity of each goal. 

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

When we have clearly defined goals with expected outcomes and achievement dates, we set the path forward down the chosen road to achieving our vision and desires for the new year.

If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it everytime.”

UNKNOWN

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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.

FEAR LESS AS A LEADER, From a Safety Professional Perspective

“Your Only Limit Is You. Be Brave And Fearless in Everything You Do”

Fears hold us back from achieving our success. As a leader, fear hinders the engagement of your passion. It opens the door for workers and leadership to take advantage of you and the situation. However, when you overcome your fear, you establish a deeper dependance on your personal growth and leadership.

Fear and overcoming fear are critical parts of our ability to lead others. In my role as a Safety Professional, I find myself fearing to make a decision or give advice that might affect production or create a morale challenge. I believe anyone who says they don’t have fear, probably needs to re-evaluate themselves. Fear lives within us all. Think about this:

You are flying from your hometown to Hawaii with your family for a much-deserved vacation. It has been a challenging year for all of you. About 3 hrs into the flight; over water and away from land, you notice smoke coming from the right engine. You notify the flight attendant, and she immediately runs and notifies the captain. Others are seeing smoke also. A buzz of fear and panic, including members of your family, begin to take over the cabin. The captain comes over the intercom (difficult to hear because of all the screaming) and says they must land in the ocean……….Has fear entered your thoughts?

I don’t think it matters who you are, how tough you are, or what your role in the organization is, I suspect anyone reading this would answer my question with a YES.

Throughout my career, I have faced fear numerous times. When you are in a profession where you have a passion for people, but are in a support role and do not have authority, there are times when you must make difficult decisions. These situations tend to put fear in our hearts and heads and sometimes can affect the outcome of the situation. 

I’ve identified five of my most common fears as a safety professional. You’ll recognize the fears because I believe anyone within the profession (even outside the profession) deals with similar situations regardless of industry or position.

  • Fear of Inadequacy – Do I know what the answer to the question is? What does the standard say we need to do about this situation? What if I tell them the wrong thing? If I’m wrong, will they disrespect me and not come to me for direction in the future? 
  • Fear of Disapproval – Will I be challenged on my decisions? Is my choice going to result in a meeting with my Plant Manager? Will my decision and direction create an atmosphere of negative energy and a loss in employee morale. Will my decision set our culture back?
  • Fear of Confrontation – Will our interaction become a hostile vocal or physical confrontation? Will they ignore me?
  • Fear of Isolation – Will they not like me? Will they invite me to lunch? Will my relationships be broken? Will I be alone?

All of these fears are felt by many, if not all, safety professionals. I will also say that anybody in any position will experience similar worries. I’ve seen each of them disrupt strong cultures and effect performance. If you’re facing any of these fears, it doesn’t mean there’s something defective about you. These fears are universal; they show that you’re human.

You will face fears. No degree can prepare you to meet them. So how do you combat your fears?

  1. Build relationships. This creates an opportunity to generate a positive attitude and motivate people.
  2. Connect with people in positions that generate your fear. Once you have that relationship and connection, the person(s) will consider you a part of the team.
  3. Build trust. Follow through on your commitment. If you can’t, then be humble and admit your mistakes.
  4. Make sure your directions and decisions add value to both the workers and leadership. People will only follow the instruction when they know it will add value to them.
  5. INFLUENCE! By accomplishing all of the above items, you will be able to influence others to change behaviors, think before performing the task, and ensure others are working safely also. 

Your approach to situations determines your ability to minimize or eliminate your fears. Here is how you should face your fear:

  • If a situation puts you in fear, step back, and take a few moments to breathe through it, think of the possible consequences and how you will handle them.
  • Walk away and call someone for advice.
  • Remind yourself that your fear is a storehouse of wisdom
  • Use humor to relieve the tense environment
  • Be flexible. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got! Many things can be done differently and will achieve the desired outcome.
  • Realize that influential leaders have to do the “difficult right things.” Sometimes the initial result is a challenge, but the long-term outcome will always be positive.

Our ability to manage fear becomes an asset to the safety of the workforce. It also contributes to the success of your organization and, ultimately, your success as a Safety Professional. You will create an environment of teamwork and collaboration that offers employees and leadership the opportunity to engage in decisions, creating a feeling of inclusion and buy-in.

“If something excites and scares you at the same time, it probably means you should do it.”

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.

WHAT WILL YOUR LEADERSHIP LOOK LIKE IN 2020

“Don’t Fool Yourself; LEADERSHIP IS HARD!”

In my effort to cultivate and grow my leadership, I find it challenging to stay the course and achieve what I read, witness, and teach. In fact, I often find myself telling people one thing and doing the exact opposite. Doing that can hurt those you lead, coach, mentor, or teach. If you don’t improve, you will ultimately lose respect, trust, and, eventually, the ability to influence. 

As 2020 approaches, I decided to evaluate my leadership abilities and identify those things I do well and those areas where I need to improve. The last four years have been a personal leadership challenge for me. I’ve had a job change that put me in a role with no direct reports and limited my decision-making authority. I’ve had to learn to lead differently. The term; “influence without authority” has become an actual reality challenge for me.

During my self-evaluation, I identified my top 5 strengths in leading others and having a strong influence on the decision making process.

1. I am a very HIGH ENERGY AND PASSIONATE leader in the areas I believe in.

2. I am willing to embrace CHANGE, even if I don’t entirely agree with it

3. I am PERSISTENT in my approach to achieving my desires, goals, and objectives

4. I am CONFIDENT in my decision making but open to ideas and suggestions

5. I am a strong ENGAGER of people

It is always good to identify your strong points, but it can be challenging to identify areas for improvement. The way I approached this was to reflect on 2019 and the many conversations, suggestions, and feedback I received throughout the year. I am always asking for feedback (although many times I don’t want to hear it or I have an excuse) 

Based on my evaluation and reflection, I will focus on building and improving the following five leadership traits in 2020. 

1. Being Clear in My Communication – I will work to enhance my communication approach through tone and word choices. Working to pull my feelings and frustration back and undoubtedly transfer my thoughts, ideas, and expectations. I will explain the “why” more often and ensure people are well informed. People want to be “in the know.” People want to deliver expectations, but can’t be successful if we don’t clearly and successfully communicate. They also want to know what the rewards are for good work and the consequences for sub-standard work.

2. Build Stronger Relationships – Relationships are critical to leadership. Strong relationships build trust and respect and offer the opportunity to influence. I will work to be present with my customers, leaders, and the workforce. I will reach out for general conversations and make sure I follow-up with the right people. I will work to show how much I care about all facets of the business. It is said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” They are looking for you to care for them and build a working relationship. I will work harder to learn and remember names and recognize that life is going on outside of work.

3. Humble Myself – I am am very confident in my role but must be better at leading with humility. I don’t know everything and always make the right decisions, but I will work diligently to illustrate my knowledge through the quality of my choices. I will recognize all persons, regardless of position, and work to realize that no one is any more important than anyone else. I will demonstrate this through my actions and interactions. I will let each know how important they are by involving them and getting their brains in the game.

4. Be a Stronger Encourager – I will continuously look for and recognize the great work people are doing. I will express my gratitude and exemplify the positive difference they are making. I will encourage them for their actions, the work they perform, and the value they add.

5. Have Courage – I understand creativity and innovation drive progress and performance. I will make bold decisions, push back when needed, but fully support the final decision. I will have difficult conversations when necessary, and I will do the difficult right things.

With a new year and new decade roll into place, I feel like it is the optimal time to increase my influence and achieve more than I ever have. I don’t know where most of you fall within your leadership needs (unless I know you). Still, I believe the results from my self-evaluation will encourage many of you to look within yourself, identify areas of improvement, and make the necessary changes to become a stronger influencer and more effective leader.

My Greatest Challenge? Me.

My job would be the greatest in the world if it weren’t for people!

Denis Baker

Here is reality. People are the reason I have a job. Probably the same for most of you.

What is the most challenging aspect of any position?

PEOPLE!

In the last few years my interaction with leaders and employees have been well……CHALLENGING.

I’ve found that regardless if the organization is growing, adding people or whether the organization was downsizing, people have been my biggest challenge.

Don’t get me wrong; some are very good, others well are…. CHALLENGING.

As I reflect on these last few years, I’ve realized the challenges with people is affected by my ability to manage my self-leadership.

I’ve also come to realize that being a leader is…..CHALLENGING. I found that leadership is, indeed, a 24/7 job. 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 of one of my challenges;

In one of the organizations I’ve worked at (no longer there), we opened an additional manufacturing facility. That meant we needed additional leaders and employees. The CEO tapped into a retired individual without having any discussion with the executive leadership group. He was familiar with the type of business and had significant manufacturing experience, but didn’t have a great ethical reputation. 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. He accomplished everything as needed. However, the way he went about it was not what I expected.

For instance:
……., he went to his former employer and convinced a large group to come over and work for us. He did this without any discussions or insight into our hiring process. That meant we had employees showing up for work without being fully authorized, without going through background checks, physicals, and orientation. I was frustrated! I immediately grew dissatisfied and refused to accommodate or help him in any way. He continued to defy our policies and procedures and was causing much discord between employees. I found myself resisting his ideas and refusing to support him.

After a year, we laid-off everyone and closed the facility.

My frustration was significantly affecting those whom I led. It was noticeable, and my attitude was not very good. The 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.

I had the knowledge and ability to change this situation immediately. I was the company leadership example.

As the head of Safety and HR, people were looking to me for direction, watching my reactions to this guy’s actions, and I was failing.

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

I realized that a leader’s greatest challenge is self-leadership.

I also found that my leadership example must be right-on for others to follow. I must always find a way to add value to every situation to influence others.

I needed to be a strong influencer to have this person do what was right. I realized that if I lead myself the correct way, others will follow. If you don’t lead, or lead poorly, you’ll push people away. Even those whom you consistently influence will become frustrated. They see your frustration and act similarly. Eventually, you will drive them away. These are the very people you need to influence.

When considering self-leadership, I like to follow three areas shared 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. We must demonstrate our emotions in 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 ultimate 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 his/her thoughts.
  3. Energy – Successful people are high energy people. However, high energy levels can create problems, both for you and for those whom you influence. My accomplishments drive me. I tend to focus on achievement, but tend to over-achieve and overwhelm people. In my training as an Executive Director with the John Maxwell group, I realize that I must focus my efforts on what provides the most significant results by adding value to others. 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 highest 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. I cannot afford to expend my energy on situations or people pulling me down as a leader. I must focus on people and projects that results in influence and ultimately, increases my leadership.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

Being in leadership is well…….CHALLENGING.

As leaders, we must remember to self-lead our actions. Whether it is a situation, person or group, the way we react and act is a direct result of our leadership frame of mind. Follow the three things mentioned above, and you will begin to self-lead yourself effectively.

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.”

Jim Rhone

I think if we can take hold of this, we can all be effective leaders who are up to the challenge.

8 LEADERSHIP LESSONS LEARNED WHILE SHOPPING AT WALMART

My Morning

I woke up early Saturday morning walked into the kitchen and brewed myself a cup of steaming dark roast coffee
(Keurig brewed it)  . As I made my way to my desk, I looked out the window and saw it was a cold, foggy and misty morning. I had just gotten comfortable at my desk, logged into the computer and thought about how wonderful it was going to be to enjoy a Saturday of writing. 

Then I heard some familiar noises behind me. I turned around to see my wife brewing her a cup of coffee. I said “good morning dear,” and was greeted with a smile and, “we need to go to Walmart this morning.” I remember hearing what was said, but thinking it was a nightmare. I took another sip of my coffee and turned back around to see if she was really standing there. I was hoping she was still in bed. But as I turned around, I saw her there, waiting for my response. I now knew it was real. Without words, the look on her face made it very clear, “you have no choice, you’re going!” There was no way to get out of it. We were going to Walmart, and I was just going to have to deal with it.


“we need to go to Walmart this morning.”

Well, we left the condo and headed for the car in this cold, foggy, misty morning. As we got in the car, I knew my attitude wasn’t right. All I could think about was having to deal with WALMART people. I could see it now; people getting in my way, bumping my basket, putting their basket in the middle of the aisle, so I can’t get my basket around, etc. 

Entering the War Zone

As we entered the war zone (store), my thoughts were immediately justified. I was walking by a register when an employee hocked a massive loogie and spit it in the trash can right in front of me!  In my total disgust, I ran toward my wife, when I was hit by a basket from a person turning from a side aisle into the main aisle. I grab my leg and continue to hobble to where my wife was. When I finally met up with her, she looked at me and asked, “what’s wrong,” I simply said, “nothing, let’s keep moving.”

After about an hour and a half of basket bumping, aisle space fighting and hardcore looks and grimaces, we finally finished our shopping. We headed to the Christmas/Garden area to check out. We were number two in line, and I was so excited that we were going to get out of here fast.

Then I overheard a conversation between the cashier and the customer in front of us. Apparently, the customer saw the same pots and pans online at a competitors site for $3 cheaper. Their discussion and banter went on forever. The customer would not relent. I came very close to saying, “Oh my gosh, I ‘ll give you $3 if you’ll just finish and leave”! Instead, I told my wife, “come-on lets go check out at the regular lanes.” We left and headed over to the other end of the store. As I was walking (maybe slightly running), I saw an empty lane, so I moved a little quicker to make sure no one got in front of me. Yes! I made it! The cashier greeted me and began to check us out. Then she noticed we bought a pizza. As she scanned it, she began to tell us how she and her husband “did something last night they hadn’t done in 20 years.” I thought to myself, I’m not sure I want to hear this. She said they had a pizza delivered along with breadsticks and two 20 oz cokes! My wife responded, “we hadn’t had a pizza delivered forever” and looked over to me and said: “isn’t that right?” I nodded, yes. By this time, the cashier was talking more than she was scanning and moving very slow. Then she saw a toy we bought my grandson and started commenting about she hadn’t seen that toy for years. I felt my ears beginning to catch fire, and my blood pressure busting through my arteries. All I could think was; quit running your mouth, speed up and finish my order so I can get the heck out of here!

Reflecting on the Moment

As we were finishing up, I caught a glance of the cashier’s face and saw how happy she was to be talking with us. I immediately told her to have a wonderful rest of the day and to have a Merry Christmas. She responded with a huge smile, “Same to you.”

We left the line and headed out of the store. As we came out, we were greeted by a Salvation Army Volunteer who greeted us with, “Have A Merry Christmas” with a huge smile.

These two instances immediately melted my heart and made me think about what makes people happy. I started to reflect on my negative attitude and stupid interactions with some of the people.  I began to think about how a real leader would be acting right now and realized that leadership should be a way of life all the time, regardless if you are at work or in a non-desirable situation. As we were walking to the car, my wife looked at me and said, “she (referring to the cashier) was so sweet.” I agreed and said that “our Walmart trip wasn’t all that bad.”

After we got home and unloaded the groceries, I started to reflect on the attitude I came into the store with and how that influenced my actions. I realized that I  learned several leadership lessons from my shopping experience.


“our Walmart trip wasn’t all that bad.”

Leadership Lessons Learned

While shopping at Walmart is not my favorite thing to do, it does offer many opportunities to influence and learn. Here are the leadership lessons I learned:

  1. Leaders are consistent in their thoughts and ideas about people regardless of where they are.
  2. Leaders value people for who they are and the hard work they perform regardless of the type of work they are doing. 
  3. Leaders make a difficult and challenging atmosphere, fun and enjoyable.
  4. Leaders listen with their eyes and ears and encourage responses.
  5. Leaders inspire others through their encouragement and influence. 
  6. Leaders are humble and relatable in all situations.
  7. Leaders keep a good head and an open heart in all situations, regardless if it is ideal or not.
  8. Leaders realize they are responsible for their own attitudes and take the initiative to change it quickly.

While I left the house with a negative attitude and a strong resentment to shop at Walmart, I learned a lot while I was there. By reflecting back on my experience, I was able to identify the fact that a leader is a leader all the time, not only when they think they need to be a leader. 

We all make mistakes, but it’s the leader who learns from their mistakes which has the most significant influence on others.

Leaders are also learners. We all make mistakes, but it’s the leader who learns from their mistakes which has the most significant influence on others. I encourage you to reflect on the eight leadership lessons I identified above and consider them in your leadership journey.

I’m Arrogant! 14 Principles I Use To Reduce My Arrogance

I recently presented a Keynote titled “The 8 Attributes of Character Defined in Great Leaders”.  The talk was not intended to identify past and present Great Leaders, although there are many, rather it was designed to provide information so individuals could evaluate their current character and consider the adjustments required to achieve the character needed to become a Great Leader.

In the talk, I identified “Humility” as being one of the attributes found in Great Leaders.   Leaders are typically those who have ambition, are talented and confident when making decisions and interacting with people.  But I bet when most of us think of leaders, we don’t typically describe them with the word “humility” or use the term, “humble.”  If they did, it might not be viewed as a compliment.

One of the toughest things about teaching and speaking on leadership topics is the conscience guilt that follows you around when you are not following your own words, principles, and practices you teach or talk about. This is something I really appreciate. Because it drives me to always look at ways I can increase my influence and become a better leader.

As I continue to evaluate my leadership and my approach to people, problems, and solutions, I find myself dealing with a little of arrogance and pride. I believe I would consider myself just a bit arrogant.  Well, maybe even a bit more than a bit, depending on who you talk to.

Male manager calling his colleague

So I have been focusing on how I lessen my arrogance and replace it with more humility? The identified 14 principles that help me to lessen my arrogance and focus on my humility. It is a work in progress, and I often slip back one or two steps. But I feel it’s working.

  1. Don’t think of someone else when reading this blog.
  2. Recognize your arrogance.
  3. Know what you don’t know and admit it.
  4. Step in someone’s else’s shoes that you interact with on a daily basis and those who interact periodically.
  5. Dig deep into not so positive feedback.
  6. Acknowledge those who helped you get where you are or where you are going.
  7. Shut up and listen!
  8. Engage in conversations by asking questions.
  9. Walk around looking for things to celebrate.
  10. Quickly admit when you are wrong.
  11. Be quick to forgive and show grace to others.
  12. Be purposeful in speaking well about others.
  13. Take a seat at the lower table.
  14. Focus on strengthening relationships, not just results.

The great college basketball coach John Wooden often told his players, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be thankful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

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

 I believe humility is the antidote to arrogance. Arrogance will cause a person to fall and ultimately fail.  Humility will cause a person to rise as they fail.  People want to follow humble leaders.

So I end with a bit of a hope……May you make an everyday choice to lessen your arrogance and give credit where credit is due and acknowledge others for your success.  May you admit when you are wrong and know what you don’t know.

 If we can honestly accomplish this, then we can continue our growth as leaders.  But never forget this, IT’s NOT ABOUT YOU………..IT REALLY ISN’T!!!

Humility wooden sign on a beautiful day

The 5 Must Have’s For the Balanced Safety Leader

Fotosearch_k10730093What a great time to be a Safety Leader! Yes, you read that right. Let me repeat, what a great time to be a leader in a Safety Professional role! Are you a leader just because you’re in a leadership role? In my opinion, NO. I know many in leadership roles that for the life of me I cannot figure out how they got there.

True safety leaders possess certain traits and attributes that make them successful. There are certain things that leaders are good at and do well. I believe there has to be something that sets them apart from the rest of the organization.

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

This blog will provide you with the must-haves to be a balanced productive and successful safety leader. Your ability to create a balanced approach to safety will ensure your success.

What led to the creation of these top must-haves? After much deliberation, they were the result of a personal need to try something new. More specifically, I was failing as a professional. What I did for many years did not work. I had good performance on occasion, but it wasn’t sustainable. I discovered that a personal approach to leadership was what I needed. One of the things I noticed in many leaders was a general lack of character and an ability to effectively balance our approach based on individual situations. Many safety professionals are regulatory driven. There is an absence of managing the situation from a balanced approach. From this, I saw a personal and professional need to create a balanced approached to the safety professional. This motivated me to develop these “5 Must-Haves”.

Balance is essential, no it is critical!. You never want to go too far one way or the other. Learning to balance your thoughts, approach and interaction with people and situations require continuous, delicate adjustments to maintain a balanced, practical approach. Balance is stressed in every aspect of our lives — from learning to ride a bike to eating a balanced diet. It should be no different in our interactions with employees and others in the organization.

Maintaining a balanced approach to the safety of employees will ensure our ability to influence their behaviors and drive the continuous improvement in safe practices.

The 5 Must-Haves for a Balanced Safety Leader are:

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

Here is a brief description of each.

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

I am so tired of meeting professionals that hate their job, hate their profession, or those who merely chose their job because they vie wit as easy. If that is you, go find something else to do. All you are doing now is creating a toxic environment for yourself and the employees in the organization. Find something you love and build your passion around it.

Passion fuels will-power as a leader. Without it, you’ll lack the drive to change and overcome obstacles. Look, being safety professional is not easy. It takes patience, a caring heart and the ability to work through the barriers. Let’s face it, we are here because we care about people. Passion is what drives me to learn more and work hard every day so that I can rest easy when my employees make it home safely from work.

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

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

Our attitude determines how we interact with others and the way we communicate determines our influence. Safety professional’s have daily interactions with all levels of the organization. If we approach an employee with a bad attitude, the outcome tends to be riddled with talk of discipline, loss of job and discouragement. On the other hand, a right or positive attitude can motivate an employee to recognize their at-risk behaviors and identify what needs to change to ensure they stay safe.

If you have a poor attitude, stay locked up in your office. If you have a right and positive attitude, be present and bring the sunshine where ever you go! Success will follow!

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

Safety Leaders are good at identifying problems, issues, and concerns. Whether it is a condition or behavior, they can determine enough issues to fill a novel. The question is, are you good at solving the problems? Be a problem solver and influence! A good rule of thumb, provide at least two solutions to every problem you identify.

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

My staff hears it all the time. What does it mean? Shouldn’t you aim first, then fire? No. Just identify the problem, fix it, and then make the necessary adjustments later. At least you did something. If you never take the initiative to do something, things will never get done! If you identify a problem or something that needs to be done, who is the best person to initiate the solution? YOU!

5.  Must have HUMILITY – Humility is better than humiliation

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

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

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

Here’s the truth. Employees know things that you don’t know. They may not say it to your face, but trust me; they are talking about you behind your back.

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

This is only an introduction to what it takes to become a productive and successful balanced safety leader. Throughout the years, these five must-haves have helped me become a successful leader. Evaluate your current leadership style and identify what will complement your personality and enable you to lead more effectively and bring you success.

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

Fotosearch_k15213036

PERSONALITY BASED GOAL SETTING

Our personality impacts everything we do; how we respond to pressure, how we network, socialize, and react when there is an emergency. Our personality is something that we cannot escape. When I reflect upon those who are successful, I see bold individuals who are assured within. They know what they are good at and they maximize upon those strengths. Successful people, regardless of their industry, are always boldly self-aware.

With the beginning of 2019, the New Year provides us with an opportunity to build upon the experiences and lessons learned from the previous year. I don’t believe we ever truly start over, instead; we build upon our achievements and/or the lessons learned from past failures and shortfalls. In retrospect, one of the things I’ve gleaned over the past couple of years is that our personality identifies our strengths and weaknesses. It directly affects our ability to achieve our goals and meet our objectives.

As a DISC Behavioral Consultant, I’ve learned to identify personality types through consultation, and help others develop goals that coincide with their character. In doing so, individuals maximize their opportunity for achievement.

These 3 actions will help individuals streamline their personal goals:

  • Tailor your conversation based on personality traits. This gives you the ability to make adjustments within the discussion to lead the path forward.
  • Generate goals that motivate the person to put in the necessary effort to achieve each one.
  • Identify areas to stretch the individual and achieve things that will take a focused effort.

By successfully implementing these 3 things into the development of goals, I believe we give people the ability to be successful and achieve more than they might expect.

So how do we set goals based upon a person’s personality? To answer this question, I will identify methods that reflect the DISC personality styles in general. I’ll use the behavioral traits and the typical strengths and weaknesses of each personality style. Let’s take a look at how to set goals for each personality style.

Dominant

People with dominant personalities are direct, decisive, problem solvers, risk takers, and self-starters. People with a strong dominant personality are hard-charging, get-it-done kind of people! I identify with this particular personality type. I tend to set very ambitious, lofty goals. However, if I don’t see immediate results, I’ll quickly lose motivation.

People you identify as having a dominant personality need to have goals that meet the following parameters;

  • Identify a few more than required. If you want 3-5 goals, a dominant person will set 7-10.
  • Make the majority of the goals short-term. This serves as motivation to accomplish many things.
  • Set a couple of long-term goals with the expectation to endure until the end.
  • Each goal must be clearly identified and the timeline for completion well established.
  • Establish regular one-on-one follow-ups and progress meetings.

When developing goals for a dominant personality consider the following:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Autocratic in teams and will rise to the top in a crisis
  2. Good at providing direction and leadership
  3. High assertiveness
  4. They have a clear idea of their ambitions and goals and will push hard for accomplishment
  5. Function well with heavy workloads
  6. Very competitive attitude
  7. Welcomes new challenges
  8. Tend to follow their own ideas

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. LEARN TO LISTEN MORE AND SPEAK LESS
  2. Gather consensus on decisions
  3. Don’t act alone
  4. Learn to answer the question “why” when asked about decisions and proposals
  5. Work on body language and tone of voice when dealing with frustration
  6. Focus on developing sincere personal relationships
  7. Can intimidate others
Influential

People with an influential personality are enthusiastic, trusting, optimistic, persuasive, talkative, impulsive and emotional. They are just pure FUN! They are the life of the party and are typically the ones we talk about after the Christmas party. They love to set goals and dream about the things they want to achieve.

These fun-loving social characters need to have goals that meet the following parameters:

  • Harness their enthusiasm when identifying goals
  • Identify goals that will move the company forward and acknowledge their value
  • Clearly define the steps to achieve each goal and have them focus on each stage before moving onto the next
  • Set smaller goals
  • Identify the timeline for each goal
  • Prioritize each goal for the company and the individual
  • Establish regular one-on-one meetings to verify progress and determine the next steps for successful performance

When developing goals for those with an influencing personality style, consider;

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Great communicators who are both influential and inspirational
  2. Have the ability to motivate others
  3. Great advocates of change and deal well with change themselves
  4. People are drawn to them, thus creating a great opportunity to lead others
  5. Positive attitude
  6. Great at brainstorming and visionary projects

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Impulsive in decision making
  2. Can be slow to action (a lot of talk, but little action)
  3. Need to exercise control over actions, words, and emotions
  4. Need to talk less and listen more
  5. Tends to over-promise
Steady

The steady personalities are good listeners, team players, possessive, steady and predictable. They are understanding and friendly relationship-based people. Goal setting usually means change is coming, which immediately causes tension for a steady personality—because they don’t like change.

If you see yourself as a person with a steady personality or will be working to set goals with someone described above, consider:

  • Goals that establish step by step directions with a clearly defined plan for achievement
  • Establish the benefit for achieving each goal
  • Needs more time to develop their goals
  • Set timelines for each goal and hold them to it

Consider the following when developing goals for the person with a steady personality:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Supportive and natural relationship builders
  2. Grounded in reality and common sense
  3. Talented multi-taskers
  4. Patient
  5. Loyal
  6. Even-tempered
  7. Peacemakers in groups and teams

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Struggles with change and making adjustments
  2. Can be overly agreeable
  3. Tends to put other’s needs before theirs
  4. Need to be more direct in their interactions with others
  5. Their pace tends to be slow, thus causing them to miss deadlines
Compliant

A person with a compliant personality is accurate, analytical, conscientious, careful, precise, meticulous and systematic.  Those with a complaint personality are very focused on procedure and making sure things are done the right way. They don’t have a problem with setting goals, but they do need help prioritizing. A compliant personality wants to accomplish EVERYTHING!

To set effective goals, a person with a compliant personality must consider:

  • Start the process early!
  • Focusing on goals that are important to YOU!
  • Ensure each goal is practical and detailed
  • Create clear, identifiable goals that establish their role within the group, department, and organization
  • Establish data-driven goals that focus on details others may not see
  • Stretch the person by developing one or two visionary goals

As you consider developing goals for the compliant personality, consider the following:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Instinctive organizers
  2. Excellent at creating and maintaining systems and processes
  3. Consistent in their approach
  4. Will see projects through until completion
  5. Strive for a diplomatic approach
  6. Strive for a group and team consensus

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Tend to be critical of others
  2. Consider other’s ideas and methods
  3. Need to speed up to help the team or group accomplish their goals
  4. Work on focusing more on building strong relationships
  5. Make faster-informed decisions
  6. Take more risks

Final Thoughts

Each one of us has a unique personality style. Sure, we can put people in “personality” buckets, but that only helps to identify our approach. As leaders, we must know our coworkers and ourselves well enough to understand what motivates them and how they react to different situations. Knowing a person’s personality style can proactively help you and your employees make adjustments. Consider the information presented and strive to achieve your personal best and the best from your employees in 2019!

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. 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, training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.