To Improve Performance, Change Your Attitude

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Life has its ups and downs, its turbulence and its smooth flying. We sometimes stall, but hopefully, we change our attitude and recover to make a smooth landing.

I love flying. I am not a pilot, but I have been interested in flying for most of my life. I love watching pilots perform their pre-check routines. I study every move they make and try to identify every instrument on the panel; altimeter, airspeed indicator, vertical speed indicator, magnetic compass, attitude indicator, heading indicator, turn indicator, etc. If you ever see a nerdy guy sitting up front watching the pilot(s) perform their pre-flight checks, it’s probably me.

I’ve had the privilege of flying in private planes and charters. One of the coolest things is most of these planes have open cabins. You can watch out the front window and every move the pilot performs. I notice that pilots are always watching their instruments. While we gaze out the window trying to identify landmarks or enjoy the scenery, the pilot is intently focused on his instrument panel. One particular instrument, the attitude indicator, seems to be one they refer to and watch most often. In fact, it is placed in a prominent position within the panel, typically right in front of the pilot. While there are other instruments of importance, I believe the attitude indicator is placed in the most prominent part of the panel, because of its significance to the safe operation of the aircraft.

attitude indicatorThe Attitude Indicator depicts the position of the airplane in relation to the real horizon. It shows whether the wings are level and if the plane is climbing or descending, or flying straight and level. A pair of wings represents the attitude of the aircraft in relation to the sky (blue) or ground (brown). Basically, if the wings are in the blue, the plane is climbing, if they are in the brown, the plane is descending. The attitude of an airplane indicates its performance. To modify the performance of an airplane, you must change the attitude.

Through my recent studies on personal attitude, I realize there is an analogy between the performance of an aircraft to the performance of a person. Just as an airplane’s attitude determines its performance, the attitude of a person will determine their performance.

What happens when a person attitude dictates unfavorable results? How can that attitude be changed? I believe the key to having a good attitude is the willingness to change. To change, one must choose to change.

If you want to achieve and maintain a good attitude, do the following:

  1. Evaluate your present attitude – Identify your problem feelings, behavior and thinking. Clarify the truth, secure your commitment and act on your decision immediately and often.
  2. Realize faith is stronger than fear – To succeed, one must have faith from the beginning knowing he/she will succeed.
  3. Want to change – When all else fails, desire alone can get you on the right track and keep you there.
  4. Live one day at a time – Success and failure follow us. Forget yesterday and focus on today. For what we do today, has an impact on tomorrow.
  5. Change your thoughts – What we focus on and remember, determines our actions. Our attitude is developed through our thoughts and feelings. Change your thoughts and feelings, and you will change your attitude.
  6. Develop the right thoughts – Our attitude is nothing more than our thoughts. It is as easy to form a thoughtful habit of success as it is a failure. Work to develop the habit of success through positive thinking.
  7. Choose to have the right attitude – The choice of a good attitude is just the beginning. Attitudes have a tendency to revert back to their original pattern. You must deliberately choose to have the right attitude.

The only way a person’s attitude can change is through their personal desire to change. As leaders, we can influence those we lead to change, but ultimately they make their own decisions. Just as an airplane’s performance changes with a change in attitude, so will the performance of an individual. But remember, attitudes can be bad or good. Make the wrong attitude adjustment in an aircraft and the results can be catastrophic. The same could be said for people. Make a bad attitude change, and the suffrage can be devastating.

Airplane Attitude.jpg

 

Trust, The Glue That Bonds Relationships

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~Ernest Hemingway

According to Steven Covey, “Trust is the glue of life.  It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.  It’s the foundational principle that upholds all relationships”. Trust is crucial in the leadership process.  In fact, trust is required for effective leadership.  Trust can be described simply by comparing it to pocket change.  Every right decision puts change in your pocket.  Every poor decision takes change from your pocket.  The key is to increase your pocket change, rather than always paying it out.  Sure we all make mistakes. And each mistake cost us some coins from our pocket.  However, employees are tolerant of mistakes as long as we are transparent, quick to humility and strive to regain their confidence.

In his book, Leadership 101, John Maxwell shares three qualities a leader must exhibit to gain trust; competence, connection and character.  Violate any one of these three qualities, and you will lose the trust of those who follow.  Trust is doing what’s right because it’s right.  Mackey and Sisodia state in their book, Conscious Capitalism; “the right actions undertaken for the right reasons generally lead to good outcomes over time.”  I don’t think anyone can remain a leader if he or she continues to make poor decisions and break the trust of employees.  When we break trust, we damage the relationship. Relationships can be repaired, but with much work and effort.

In fact, a leader can’t be a leader if there is no trust because trust leads to influence.  If people don’t trust you, you can’t have influence.  Without influence, you can’t lead.

Build sincere relationships and out of your sincerity, will come trust. Only then will you be able to influence and achieve effective leadership.

trust-fall

TO COACH IS TO LEAD, 6 Principles to Effective Coaching

 

It was a scorching Thursday. Sweat was pouring down my face, and my shirt was soaked. As I was leaving the location, I overheard a supervisor having a conversation with an employee.  I stood by (without being noticed) and listened to what was being said. It seemed to be a one-sided conversation from the supervisor to the employee. I overheard the supervisor insult the employee over 5 times within 8 minutes. He kept telling him how “stupid” he was and how a 10-year-old could do the job better and more efficient than he would ever be able to.  The conversation and subsequent insults continued for another five minutes before the supervisor finally stopped and told the employee to go back to work.

As the supervisor began walking back to his trailer, I called him over and said I overheard his conversation with the employee and that I wanted to ask him a few questions. I started off the conversation just stating that I only wanted to know if he felt his discussion would effectively improve the employee’s performance?  The supervisor looked at me with his head slighted tilted and his eyebrows raised and stated, “I don’t know, if not, I will fire him.”

I continued my questioning:

  • Will firing a person solve the overall performance issue?
  • What action (or lack thereof) generated the conversation?
  • Did he feel his approach was effective?
  • Have you had previous conversations with this employee over similar circumstances?
  • Do you feel you clearly and more effectively communicated your expectations to this employee?
  • What could he have been done to involve the employee in identifying why he is not meeting your expectations?
  • Do you feel you are an effective leader?

Our conversation went on for quite some time.  I could tell the supervisor was frustrated and had no idea where I was going and why I was asking so many questions. Typically, no one would question what a supervisor was doing and why. However, after some time and many questions, he finally admitted that he could have handled the situation differently.  I asked him what brought him to that conclusion?  He said he realized that embarrassing a person and threatening their job was not very effective. He also stated that he now figured out why his crew will not talk to him or interact in conversations. He went on to say that he realized they were not interested in a relationship and they were afraid to say anything.  The next question is obvious, “What did he think he needed to do to change or correct the situation?” The supervisor looked at me and then the ground and back at me and said, I need to have a talk with the whole group and maybe start over.  I agreed, shook his hand and walked away.

As I was walking back to my vehicle, I realized something. Regardless of position, coaching is critical to effective leadership. If one can’t coach employees, are they able to influence? We know leadership is influence, John Maxwell made that clear. I believe the answer is no.

If you want to become an effective leader, then you must become a competent coach. What is coaching? Coaching is a conversational process that aims to improve performance by focusing on the current or immediate performance and not the past or future performance. The coaching process is designed to allow a person to arrive at their own conclusions or solve their own problems by just honestly answering the questions from the coach.

To become an influential leader, the supervisor or manager must transition from a controlling, intimidating or monitoring role to one of a partnership between the manager and employee(s). This will create an atmosphere of shared understanding about what needs to be achieved and the process for obtaining it.

Don’t let the word “coaching” confuse you. The coaching process doesn’t mean there is a hands-off approach, but rather an environment of involvement in the employees or groups progress.  One must move from a “checking and monitoring” philosophy to a progressive process for encouraging improved performance.  Employees are not free to do as they wish; but are held accountable for their overall performance and meeting the established goals, plans, and timelines. To be active in the coaching process, you must become familiar with the basic principles of coaching and how it works. To get a better understanding, I’ve identified six principles you should remember when coaching.

  1. Ask Don’t Tell.  A coach is NOT an expert who gives advice, but rather someone who asks practical questions to bring the individual to their own conclusions.
  2. Answers are Within. The answers are ALWAYS in the individual, the person is just not conscious of them at the time.  The coaches job is to bring the solutions forward.
  3. Power is the Process. The power is in the process NOT the coach.
  4. No need for Experts. You do NOT need to know how to do something OR be experienced at it to coach someone to greater performance.
  5. Answers Inform, Questions Transform. The more non-directive you are (in questioning), the more powerful your influence. Asking a particular kind of question is the key to achieving the answers.
  6. The Process Works. Realize that coaching brings self-discovery, awareness, clarity, responsibility, and choice, it makes the unconscious, conscious.

What will coaching do? It will build stronger bonds between you and your employees. It will also help them improve their performance by learning to identify and solve problems and issues before they affect performance.

Coaching is an excellent way to increase influence and improve employee performance, thus strengthening your leadership.

 

Listen First, Listen Second, Speak When You Understand

isten firstListening, a task I struggle at. As a coach, trainer and speaker, I tend to be a problem solver. In fact, I think I’m so good, I’ll finish your sentence or thought for you. Why should you waste valuable oxygen. However, I’m finding the oxygen we breath gives a person the ability to take a breath and speak their thoughts, concerns and ideas. In fact, when I allow people to finish their sentence and thoughts, I find many provide valuable solutions or ideas. So as I continue to learn how to control my attention and listen more, I am finding that; from listening comes knowledge and from knowledge comes a true understanding. From understanding comes the wisdom to support or help. And from wisdom, comes the ability to solve problems. The common saying; “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason”, continues to be true throughout the ages. Learn to listen, and you will be more successful.

Self-Leadership, My Most Difficult Challenge

businesswoman hands holding sign find your way text messageWhy is leading myself more difficult than leading others? I ask myself this question EVERY SINGLE day!

Why do I say or do things I know are wrong (there is a biblical reference here)? It happens at home, work, with my wife, with my co-workers and those I love and lead.

The answer is simple. There are areas I don’t see until they sprout up. In fact, I believe there are times I don’t see myself from a realistic point. I see myself from my intentions, AND others see me through my actions and words.  I should probably also admit that I see my intentions from the training and talks I give.

self-lead 2.jpg

While I speak of myself, I am sure I’m not alone.  But how does one address this issue? Answer, look for the blind spots and deal with them! However, how do we identify the blind spots?  I look personally to three source for my self-leadership:

  1. Scripture
  2. My wife
  3. Co-workers and staff

These sources provide direct and/or indirect insights to the areas I need to change or improve.  With this information, I can apply these five principles.

  1. Control Emotions –  Like anyone else, leaders have  emotions.  In fact, I believe a leader’s emotions can be more powerful due to the passion and desire for success they possess.  However, a good leader knows how to control their emotions and display or delay them based on the situation.
  2. Meditate – Leaders are achievers.  And that means they hit the ground running, which leaves little time to stop and think.  Spend 30-45 minutes every morning mediating on the things that matter and planning your day.
  3. Focus Your Effort Where it Matters– A good leader wants to achieve more.  They are never satisfied with their achievements. For me, I tend to want to fix everything and solve everyone’s problems. However, to be effective we must learn to focus our efforts on what really matters.  I heard John Maxwell say, ” You can’t be 100% all the time.” I find that statement very true.  We must identify the times and events where we need to be 100% .  Everything else gets a good effort,  just not our best.
  4. Serve Others – Zig Ziggler said, You can have everything in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”  I am finding this to be very true.  Not from a selfish perspective, but simply from putting others first in every action or decision. Throughout my career, I have seen and reaped the benefits of putting others first by gaining their respect, commitment and dedication.  I simply look at it as, “you reap what you sow.”
  5. Get a Coach and/or Mentor – We all need to keep our minds sharp and our thoughts and ideas flowing freely.  Our minds can freeze or we experience those “blind spots” that throw us for a loop.  As a Coach and Mentor, I see the benefit from asking stimulating questions and the ability to seek wisdom and advice from others. I personally have at least five mentors that I can rely on for helping to address questions or walk me through situations.  I sleep better knowing I have access to these individuals.  I also can call several coaching colleagues for encouragement and guidance when needed.

Take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of your self-leadership to these five principles. Then establish a process where you consistently work to apply these principles and improve where needed.

A leader’s greatest challenge and most difficult task, is self-leadership. If you lead yourself correctly, you will influence others and they will follow.  Failure to manage your self-leadership will create a loss of respect and the inability to influence, causing people to leave and follow others.

self-lead 1.jpeg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Initiative and Success

READY, FIRE, AIM, The Initiative Concept for Leadership Abundance and Success

Ready Fire AimIf you know what to do, then just do it!  I could probably stop right there and have the shortest blog I’ve ever written.  But that would be boring.

As a leader, one of the most frustrating things is to have someone on my team not take the initiative to make things happen.  Instead they sit back and wait for direction, or constantly need my approval that their path or ideas are right.

I want people that are willing to take risks, learn from their mistakes and accomplish what they never thought could be done.  I encourage and expect my staff to embrace the idea of READY, FIRE, AIM!  A concept I learned years ago and I have refined recently.

Let me break the term down:

  • READY – Identify what needs to be accomplished and evaluate what it takes to fully and completely accomplish the task or idea.
  • FIRE – Go do it!  Don’t wait.  Be the swoosh in NIKE and “Just Do It.”  For my inner circle, there are very few times where this concept wouldn’t apply.
  • AIM – Once you “Do It”, then tweek as needed.  If you did your due diligence in the READY phase, there should be very little need to correct things.

These three simple words can create extreme success in your leadership and success in the workplace.

Here are three examples of people who embraced the concept of READY, FIRE, AIM:

  1. Elon Musk – When you make millions off of an internet company like PayPal, the world generally expects you to, well, create and make more millions off of another internet company. But Elon Musk’s dreams lay elsewhere: Rather than follow a more conventional career path, Musk took the money he had made at PayPal and invested it in two of his own highly innovative startups, SpaceX and Tesla. Though his attempt at operating these two ventures at once nearly sent both companies into bankruptcy, it seems to have ultimately paid off—today, both SpaceX and Tesla thrive.
  2. Sylvester Stallone – With a baby on the way and too little money to pay the rent on his Hollywood apartment, Sylvester Stallone sat down and wrote the screenplay for Rocky in less than four days. Producers loved it and offered him big bucks to bring the story to life—but Stallone, as down-and-out as he was, refused to take any offer if he wasn’t allowed to play the lead role in the film.  Rocky ultimately ended up pulling in millions of dollars and skyrocketing Sly into fame.
  3. Travis Kalanick: Uber – Travis is a great example of Ready, Fire, Aim.  If he become discouraged with failure, Uber wouldn’t exist.  Founded the company Scour Inc., a multimedia search engine, and Scour Exchange, a peer-to-peer file sharing service. Two years later, the company would come under fire from several big name music and film agencies for copyright infringement, forcing Scour to eventually succumb to bankruptcy.  In 2007, Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded Uber. After facing some early competition and funding concerns, the ridesharing app is now the most widely used app of its kind. Kalanick created three companies; one failed, but that did not stop him from taking the risk.

Taking initiative is an important part of most any job and is critical to increasing your influence and ultimately your leadership.  However, the reality is that not many of us will not end up as successful as Elton, Sylvester or Travis.  But I can say people who take initiative, are people I want in my inner circle.  And I bet that is the way many leaders feel.

I agree with Conrad Hilton said, “Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful people keep moving,.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” 

Don’t keep talking about it, just “DO IT.”

swoosh

AUTHENTIC INTEGRITY

I was talking with a group of people the other day when one of them began talking about how much integrity they had and how they strive to do the right thing always. That statement caught me by surprise, because I know this person and have had many discussions concerning their lack of integrity.  It made me realize two things.

  1. If you have to have tell someone you have integrity, you probably don’t.
  2. Authentic integrity is built within a person’s character through their actions.

Authentic integrity is the foundation of a person’s credibility.  Credibility creates confidence and that confidence allows influence.

“Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do” – Don Gater.

Someone once said,

“You are already of consequence in the world if you are known as a man of strict integrity”.

That’s how essential integrity is in your personal life. In fact, if you have nothing else, authentic integrity will catapult you past everyone else.

Dwight Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.

I agree with Eisenhower. I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of having authentic integrity if you want true leadership in your life.

Integrity gives you so much as a leader; credibility, trust, confidence, influence and much more.

Be a person of integrity and be a person who people want to follow.

Integrity Seal

Difficulties Creates Influence

Winston Churchill said, “Don’t argue about the difficulties, the difficulties will argue for themselves.”

We all experience difficulties in our personal and professional lives. But what I have learned is how we respond to these difficulties, determines our ability to continue to influence others. Here is how I approach difficulties;

1.Ask “Why?” once and figure out “What now?”
2.Quit whining, nobody cares!
3.Change what you can and accept what you can’t.
4. Remember, life isn’t fair and there are no guarantees.
5. When difficulties threaten to overcome, look for ways to help and serve others
6. Be grateful for what you have. Regardless of how little it may seem.

It can be exhausting to deal with various difficulties. However, you must persevere to conquer the opportunities to influence.

Difficulties

BECOME A LEADER WHO INFLUENCES THE INFLUENCERS

To be an effective leader we must influence.  We’ve all seen John Maxwell’s quote, “Leadership is Influence, Nothing More, Nothing Less.”  People who can influence can lead.  But how does one become a leader of leaders?  The obvious answer is to influence the influencers.

Balancing a team leader with a great team. A team of three executives stands on a balance where the counterweight is a great team leader.

How do you influence the influencers?  It begins by identifying your strengths and weaknesses and making adjustments as necessary. In addition to your basic influence, you increase your influence on the influencers by;

  1. Being fully in the game – Follow and align with the organizations vision and goals, regardless of what you think.  Influencing the influencers; means being a team player. Remember; Power comes to those who live under authority.
  2. Use your strengths to help others succeed – Les Brown said, “help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”  Influencing the influencers; means remembering there are others that need your help.
  3. Ask for feedback – How can you exceed expectations if you don’t know if you are meeting expectations. Influencing the influencers; means knowing how to exceed expectations.
  4. Just Do it – My favorite saying, “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, show me what you’ve done!”  Influencing the influencers; requires achieving more than others and doing it better.
  5. Ready, Fire, Aim – Do what you need to do to, to accomplish what you need to accomplish.  Remember the saying ,“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” Influencing the influencers; means being first, because first always wins!
  6. ALWAYS see the bigger picture through the weeds – Sanford I. Weill said, “The details create the big picture.”  Influencing the influencers; means seeing the big picture in all circumstances.
  7. Give second chances – We all make mistakes, some more than others (talking about myself).  Influencing the influencers; requires recognizing we all make mistakes and helping others become successful.
  8. Hold yourself and others to high standards – My staff knows this principle well.  If we can’t exceed expectations, how can we expect others to do the same. Only those who think great, become great!  Influencing the influencers; means doing it better all the time, every time.
  9. Ask good questions – Become good at asking questions.  “Answers inform, questions transform”, John Maxwell.  Influencing the influencers; means having the answers before everyone else does.
  10. Be persistent – Don’t give up, EVER!  Don’t stop until you accomplish what you set out to achieve and then achieve more!  Influencing the influencers; requires persistence in the things that matter.
  11. Be consistent – Avoid impulsive decisions and think before you speak.  Influencing the influencers; requires consistency in our actions and behaviors.
  12. Call out the elephant in the room – The Old English used a term, “There it is”.  It was used when calling out the obvious or ridiculous in something or someone.  Not addressing an obvious issue is passing up a chance to influence and more than  likely being viewed as intimidated.  Influencing the influencers; requires guts and courage.
  13. Assemble an inner circle that believes in the vision – John Maxwell said, “A leaders potential is determined by those closest to him/her.”  Influencing the influencers; requires exceptional influence from you and your entire team.
  14. Be direct, but respectful –  It’s important to speak your mind when the timing is right.  However, be respectful in all conversations.  Influencing the influencers; requires people with the audacity to get to the point and do it respectfully.   
  15. Admit your mistakes and fix them – No need for excuses, just admit the wrong doing and make it right.  Influencing the influencers; requires humility, not arrogance.
  16. Seek wisdom from the wise and obtain knowledge from those who have walked before you –  Some know the way because of the wisdom they posses.  Some know the way, because of the experiences they’ve experienced.  Influencing the influencers; requires seeking counsel and advice when needed.Leader speaking / 3D render image representing an leader speaking in front of a crowd

Those who influence the influencers, are those who influence those who have influence. In other words, to lead leaders, you must influence those who lead others.  Do what you do well and lead those you lead with conviction and passion and you will find yourself leading leaders.