ENDURING THE HARD TIMES

Thank God for the tough times. They are the reason you are there – to be the leader. If everything were going well, the people wouldn’t need you.”

JOHN MAXWELL

Last week was exhausting. I didn’t say it was terrible, but it was difficult. You know when you have one of those weeks where you get knocked down, get back up, only to be knocked down again? Well, that was me last week.

Being a Health and Safety Professional during the COVID-19 crisis is pushing every button and pulling every last string I have. Every day consist of multiple virtual conversations, meetings, and phone calls. Last week I made decisions that were contradicted; I issued a process that had many grammatical errors. And I gave people advice that was off from our company position. But one thing I can admit, is through my ability to endure and be patient, I was able to overcome my difficult week.

But on a practical level, where did I build the endurance and patience I needed to get through last week? As a leader, I look to grow my leadership capability in many ways, whether reading books, taking on challenges, creating leadership classes, or merely writing my blog. However, I base my leadership foundation on the Word of God. With this knowledge base, I can persevere through difficult challenges and difficult times.

Last week brought me to consider this bible verse. Colossians 1:11: 

11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have high endurance and patience,….

This verse gave me the answer I needed to get through last week: God’s power produces endurance and patience within us. 

What I found is endurance and patience will empower leaders:

WHEN CONFLICT ARISES

WHEN DIFFICULTY ARISES

WHEN CHALLENGES BECOME IMPOSSIBLE

WHEN A CRISIS OR TRAGEDY STRIKES

WHEN THE TEAM LOSES HOPE

A weak or passive leader would fail in everyone one of these situations. During difficult times, people want leaders who can endure the worse conditions and who patiently employ faith and grit.

If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.

JOHN WOODEN

We are in a time where many friends, families, and colleagues are dealing with difficulties beyond measure. As leaders, we need to step up and encouraging them to endure patiently.

Will next week be better? I don’t know, but I am going to continue to patiently endure through what ever happens. By doing this, I will increase my influence and become a more effective leader creating a higher morale with those I lead. YOU CAN DO THE SAME.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, 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, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

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.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, 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, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

YOU WILL PAY A PRICE WHEN LEADING IN A CRISIS

“Great leaders are never stress-free,struggle-free, or failure-free.”

UNKNOWN

There is always a cost to leadership. When leading in this time of crisis, leaders must step up more than ever. However, the price of leadership will be much higher. Leading in a crisis is like a car engine, if you ramp up the RPM’s past the red line for too long, you are probably going to blow the engine. For many, ramping up our leadership means working longer hours, engaging in stressful situations along with making tough decisions. I know this can be hard and raise your anxiety, but you are what your people need NOW! 

So how can you lead in this crisis and maintain the sanity needed to be successful? 

Lean on the wise

If you think everything depends on you, then I believe you own too much of the burden. Maybe you ultimately have the full responsibility for the outcome, but that doesn’t mean that you must operate alone. Reach out and seek advice from those you trust and admire. We all have a mentor or two that can give you information and provide ideas and suggestions.  

Vent to those you trust

Leaders in high-stress situations need to talk to people outside their circumstances. As the pressure increases and the anxiety mounts, conversations with a trusted friend, counselor, or coach will help you reduce stress, anxiety, and regain a clear perspective on the situation. The result of doing this, is renewed energy and a drive to attack what’s ahead.

Increase your physical wellness

We think of stress primarily in emotional terms, but it has a significant physical component as well. Rather than getting less sleep because you’re so busy, make it a priority to get more sleep. The same is true for physical exercise—running, swimming, biking, etc. My wife and I purchased a Peloton bike in November. The investment in this bike has been the best thing ever in reducing our anxiety and building up my mental and physical strength. This has resulted in my ability to maintain the energy required to make difficult decisions and address difficult situations. 

Elevate your spiritual well-being

The most significant power for leading in chaotic times comes from above. It is tempting to spend less time reading the bible or praying when there are so many demands for our time. However, these practices are crucial to gain the wisdom, perspective, and peace that we desperately need. Remember the words of Martin Luther:

“I have so much to do that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.”

MARTIN LUTHER

I doubt I have said anything you don’t already know that many of you could add more information to clarify my knowledge. Still, as I continue to deal with the current crisis and cope with the extreme change in life and work, I am looking for ways to recharge and re-evaluate my self and improve my leadership. I hope this will help you do the same.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, 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, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

EMBRACE THE CRISIS AND BECOME A LEADER IN DISRUPTED TIMES

All disruption starts with introspection.”

Jay Samit

With all the chaos and craziness going on, we can choose to be the leader we are called to be or not. We are the ones to encourage and communicate the hope, safety and the future of those we lead. The current disruption has upended EVERY life. You have to decide to embrace the disruption; no one can make it for you. 

So if you choose to embrace it, how do you become a person who can effectively lead through this disruption?

Resolve the fact things are not the same. 

It is ok to admit things are not the same. Conditions seem to change every hour. But we must realize we cannot swim in a lake of calm waters when there is a storm causing rough seas. Denial won’t lead people. The world we live in is fundamentally different then it was a month ago. 2020 will go down in history as a year of worldly change. It’s a new beginning. For better or worse, we are at a turning point. We can accept that or deny it. Our lives are disrupted, which has flowed right into our families, jobs, and businesses. Look, things are not the same as they used to be, and there is no going back. Instead, we must embrace change and look for new approaches to lead differently.

Ask yourself, When I look back, what will I see?

The decisions we make and the interactions with family, friends, and our staff will define our leadership and impact people who count on us. Leaders speak into a crisis, and they encourage and point to hope and faith. We are given a platform; how we use it will determine the future. Leaders must speak, and leaders must lead. When we are on the other side of this crisis, will you be proud or disappointed of your actions?  

Lead in sacrificial service toward others. 

Some organizations emerge from a crisis more energetic and more ready to succeed than they were before the crisis arrived. The difference that separates them from companies that fail is PEOPLE. Leaders who believe leadership is about others will empathize, engage, motivate, and support their people, resulting in respect and commitment. The truth about leadership is it does not exist for the leader, but the led. Leadership is not about YOU! Serve others through your actions, and they will serve you.

“Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Things will never go back to normal. We are too far into this crisis. We must identify new ways of achieving our goals and create a vision that inspires hope and encourages our people to succeed. We are in the middle of recalibrating, reprioritizing, and reminding people of the need to embrace the crisis. Embrace the disruption, and you will be on the path to lead successfully.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, 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, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

LEADING PEOPLE IN A TIME OF CRISIS

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading today.”

Abraham Lincoln

The world is in unequaled times with the COVID-19 crisis. The history of the world has experienced many different types of crises throughout the ages. But, anyone reading this blog has never experienced what we are going through now.

The current worldwide situation has poured out anxiety, worry, and uncertainty. I’ve heard John Maxwell say, “there are no two consecutive good days in the life of a leader.” Admittedly, that statement got your attention. Think about the day before your organization enacted the “Crisis Management Team” or began developing policies and procedures that shook up and changed everything you’ve were doing. What was the day like before that?. Maybe you accomplished several goals, perhaps you made the most substantial sell of your career, or were promoted! I’m sure you and your significant other or family enjoyed a beautiful sunny day where enjoyed a great dinner, or maybe you got pizza and ice cream for the family.

There are no two consecutive good days in the life of a leader.”

John Maxwell

Then you wake up the next morning and – BAM, everything you know has been turned upside down, and you are put in a position to lead through a crisis! We are all in it now.

As you grow in your leadership, you are given more responsibility, and that responsibility results in you facing more challenging and demanding decisions. Those decisions may be cut and dry, but in this current crisis, I would expect many leaders are experiencing the most difficult decisions in their LIFE! The most influential leaders in the world are put in situations where they are being advised of many new and unknown situations and conditions and are being forced to make decisions that affect the lives of people and the future of business and society!

The truth about leadership is it does not exist for the leader, but the led.

Denis Baker

The truth about leadership is it does not exist for the leader, but the led. Leaders are principally unnecessary in times of peace and tranquility. In those cases, a manager will suffice. But when people face a seemingly insurmountable problem or crisis, they instinctively look to leaders to lead the way. John Maxwell says, “a leader is one that knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.” True leaders are those who can move people from where they are to where they need to be. They are problem solvers and help people see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So how should we lead in frightening times?

  1. Be visible. When times are challenging, leaders need to be seen and felt. It’s not the time to retreat and try to figure things out behind closed doors. You must put yourself forward as someone that people can talk to or turn to when their fears overwhelm. People want a leader that knows where they are going and shows them how to get there.
  2. Make the horror concrete. Abraham Lincoln said, “A leader must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart.”. Max Dupree said, “the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”—that means acknowledging what’s going on around us. WE cannot lead through a crisis if we’re unwilling to recognize people are scared, or that the situation is frightful.
  3. Brighten the mood.  Point beyond the fear to a brighter day. Remind people of what the Psalmist said: “Nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.” Leaders must communicate to their people the hope on the other side of the situation.
  4. Be cautious with predictions, but lead the path forward. Don’t communicate an ending or way that won’t take place. When leading people, look beyond the crisis, but don’t predict exactly how things will work out. The simple truth is you don’t know, and that’s okay. You’re not a predictor of the future, but rather an examiner of the current times.  People don’t expect you to know the future but get them there. Clear communication will give people the energy and hope to engage in the necessary activities. 

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”

Max Dupree

We are in a time desperate for strong leadership. Government, businesses, churches, and families are all facing huge problems that only influential leaders can take on. If there was ever a time for your leadership to make a lasting contribution, it is NOW!

Will you rise to the challenge?

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, 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, 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!

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, 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, 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.”

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, 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, 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.

BUILDING QUALITIES OF INTEGRITY

“Integrity is the foundation upon which all other values are built!”

What are you willing to do for $10,000,000?

This question was posed to 2,000 Americans in an anonymous survey. Here are the results;

  • Would abandon their entire family (25%)
  • Would abandon their church (25%)
  • Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
  • Would give up their citizenships (16%)
  • Would leave their spouses (16%)
  • Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
  • Would kill a stranger (7%)
  • Would put their children up for adoption (3%)

When I look at these stats and consider the way most American businesses and people operate, I think it is clear that integrity is falling behind. However, leaders who genuinely want to honor people and run a respectful business must lead with integrity.

The Bible provides excellent examples of various components of leadership. An interesting narrative in the Bible is the story about Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. This story is an excellent illustration of how to build integrity. These young Hebrew men were recruited into service by King Nebuchadnezzar If you focus on the details, the qualities to make integrity reveal themselves. 

As you read these qualities, rank yourself between 1-10 on each quality, 1 being the least and 10 being highest.

1. Leaders make tough choices by doing the difficult right things 

Daniel refused to eat the King’s food (Daniel 1.8) because Jewish law prohibited eating food offered in idol worship. He risked expulsion and possibly death by making such a choice. However, he made the right choice by doing the difficult right thing. 

2. Leaders treat their critics and enemies with respect. 

After Daniel and the King’s wise men were unable to tell the King the dream he had, and interpret it, ordered all wise men executed. However, Daniel approached the executioner with “tact” (Daniel 2.14). The encounter opened the door for Daniel to appeal to the King and interpret his dream. This changed Nebuchadnezzar to change his decision.

3. Leaders build their moral compass around their values.

When Daniel appeared before the King, he told him, “no human could interpret his dream, but that the God of heaven could solve his problem.” Daniel’s commitment to his values and beliefs served created his integrity. Whenever Daniel faced a decision, he always defaulted to what he valued. 

4. Leaders are consistent even in the small things because the little things matter.

In Daniel’s later years, he faced what appeared to be a small compromise. The current King, King Darius, was tricked by leaders jealous of Daniel into issuing a 30-day edict requiring everyone to pray to the King. Because Daniel had strong integrity and they could find any character flaws (Daniel 6:4), they resorted to deceit

For decades Daniel prayed to God three times a day, and everyone knew it. Now in his 80’s, he could have easily made a small compromise by praying to God in secret and fake prayers to the King. But that is not what Daniel could do. His integrity caused him to refused to follow the King’s proclamation and was thrown into the lion’s den, where he was later rescued. Leaders with integrity refuse to cut corners, compromise, or give in to the small matters of life and leadership.

5. Leaders model integrity for their kids and grandkids.

With two grandkids, my commitment to building strong integrity and values is becoming more prominent in my life. When I think about what I do and how I respond and react to things and situations, I consider that they will be more apt to model what I do (and did) than what I say (or said).

ENDING 

Centuries ago the Chinese were so fearful of their enemies that they built the Great Wall of China, It was so high they knew no one could climb over it & so thick that nothing could break it down. 

 But during the first 100 years of the wall’s existence, China was invaded three times. Not once did the enemy break down the wall or climb over its top. Each time they bribed a gatekeeper and marched right through the gates. 

Great leaders diligently seek to live, model, and build integrity into their lives. With honesty, we will thrive. Without it, our values lessen, and our souls wither.

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!