AVOID LEADERSHIP FAILURES IN THE 2ND HALF

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

It is the 2nd half of the Dallas Cowboys game vs. the New York Giants. We have just lost Dak Prescott to a season-ending injury in the 3rd quarter. Ezekiel Elliot just isn’t gaining the rushing yards that he is capable of achieving. There is a 75% chance the Cowboys will lose this game. 

As I think about the second half of this year, I reflect on the Cowboys game when Dak Prescott was injured. I asked myself, what things did I do to cause a fall back in my leadership? The areas I determined I had failed in include; 

  • Made poor decisions 
  • Spoke when I shouldn’t have
  • Didn’t change my bad habits

I could have made wiser decisions. I did not have to speak everything in my mind, and I didn’t change poor habits that probably contributed to my leadership fall. 

Leadership failure is like injuries within football. Injuries seem to occur more frequently in the later quarters. Why? I think the simplest explanation is the accumulation of fatigue and the excessive desire to win. 

In this continuing pandemic, leaders are experiencing failure in their professional and personal lives due to the abundance of fatigue and frustration. For example, you make a poor decision because you were frustrated and tired and didn’t consider the outcome. Or maybe you said something harsh in a moment of frustration, causing pain and frustration. 

The reality is that we can’t avoid making mistakes. No leader can do that. But if you recognize your failures and frustrations, you can make changes and improve your chances of success. 

So how do you do this?

LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVES

When Dak was injured, a long time Bengals QB and now Dak’s backup, Andy Dalton, came in and led a game-winning drive. A substitute brings in full energy and allows other players to rest or recover, allowing them to make changes and improve their performance when they return. 

RECOGNIZE SIGNS OF FATIGUE AND FRUSTRATION. 

There isn’t a written process to determine when you need to take a break. That decision depends on your awareness. If you feel frustrated or tired, then take time away from work and do the things you love to do. Maybe it is a hobby or travel (where it is safe and allowed) or simply chilling at the house and playing with the kids or taking your significant other out to dinner. Re-focus your thoughts and approaches, look for opportunities to improve your performance, and re-build relationships.

PLAY YOUR POSITION

Stick to your role. Some people run out of energy and get frustrated because they’re trying to do their job and someone else’s. It doesn’t work for an athlete to simultaneously play several positions, and it won’t work for you either.

USE YOUR TIME OFF THE FIELD WISELY

Grow yourself. By growing your leadership, you will have the ability to lead others effectively. Think about the players on the sideline, riding an exercise bike, or getting attention from a trainer? They’re not doing it because they have nothing better to do. They’re doing it so that they can get back in the game. 

Our behaviors determine our actions and our actions determine the outcome. Be proactive and make the changes to ensure you finish the year strong!

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.  

WHAT KIND OF SAFETY LEADER DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION NEED

Need Leadership Quotes For Inspiration? We Found All The Best Ones ...

For every organization that employs people, the safety of the people is a critical part of organizational success.

Safety methods must be fully integrated into the entire organization, from finance down to daily operations. This ensures safety is always being considered regardless of the conversation being had or activities being considered. 

Being a leader in the current year has undoubtedly put a magnifying glass on this truth. With the number of job losses, the reduction of budgets, and the need to think differently, we have fallen into an unprecedented challenge for the safety of our people. However, we must realize that without workers, companies can’t succeed. So the need to ensure the safety of our workforce is critical.

In our efforts to ensure people’s safety, leaders must be effective influencers to establish or change expected behaviors. To be an effective influencer, leaders need to know what markers are critical to their success. 

What kind of safety leader does your company need? The answer to this question is; All leaders are safety leaders.

To send you in the right direction, I have identified four crucial markers of an effective safety leader.

BE PASSIONATE AND HAVE COMPELLING PURPOSE

Passionate leaders are fully engaged and committed to supporting the safety of their people. When you’re in the presence of a passionate leader, your senses become stimulated, and your emotions are increased as you pick up their positive, contagious attitude and energy. People who work for passionate leaders tend to exhibit very safe behaviors.

If you are not passionate about what you believe, what you do or the safety of your people, THEN DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT!

However, as a passionate leader, you need a vision that drives people forward. Realize that everything you do matters! Great lives are produced when they’re committed to a great cause—and the most significant purpose is the safety and success of people.

BE CLEAR IN YOUR PERCEPTION

There are two types of thoughts: those who view the glass half-full, and those who see the glass as half-empty. This is called perception, and our perceptions profoundly impact how we view things. After all, our perception determines our reality. “Perception molds, shapes, and influences our experience of reality,” says Linda Humphreys, Ph.D. 

In other words, we believe what we perceive, and we create our realities based on those perceptions. 

“You must see past your perception to visualize the reality that is coming.” –

Denis Baker, CSP 

Anytime you attempt something, especially change, trouble and resistance will come your way. 

BE CONSISTENCY IN YOUR APPROACH

The term “consistency” is not referring o all leaders are the same. It merely means that whatever style, management techniques, or leadership traits you exhibit, you must implement them consistently. A leader must be predictable, as consistency and predictability are positive traits that provide respect and ultimately allows the influence of others. In most work environments, especially now, leaders are faced with a whirlwind of change, and the leader must provide stability in their leadership.

Inconsistent leaders sometimes require a lot of detail, and on other occasions, need little detail. Sometimes they want you to seek their approval, then later question why you brought the same approval request. That causes a lack of respect and decreases your influence. 

The bottom line is that people working for inconsistent leaders often spend unnecessary time wondering how to proceed or harboring resentment because they cannot predict what the leader wants. This substantially slows down the organization’s and reduces its effectiveness. 

“The lack of consistency results in the lack of safe behaviors, which results in more injuries.” –

Denis Baker, CSP

BE COURAGEOUS AND PERSISTENT

To tackle change, you can’t give up. You must keep doing what you feel is right, no matter what happens. Just because you show courage during difficult times doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving ahead despite your fear.

Persistence is one of the critical markers of an effective leader. To gain persistence requires determination and a mindset that — no matter what happens — you will stick to your principles. Persistence is equivalent to running a marathon. The time you spend training and preparing, and what you do leading up to the race will determine how well you perform. To effectively influence others, you have to work hard and continually find ways to motivate, build respect, and consistently stand your ground.

You became a leader for a reason; success in leadership comes from developing and perfecting courageous persistence. 

People’s safety rises and falls on your leadership.

SUCCEED THROUGH PERSISTENCE

“I don’t think I can make it!” 

I used to take my family to a Christian family camp every year. Horn Creek is located in the Sangra DeCristo mountain range just above the city of Westcliffe, CO, and just below Horn Creek mountain. Throughout the years, I would hear stories and recounts of people hiking to various caves, gold and silver mines, and a WWII plane crash. Understanding all of these stories made me want to go and explore. However, the idea of hiking down to the plane crash intrigued me more than anything. I had read the history of the crash and saw the guns and other items in a small museum in town. I was told the aircraft was left as it was except for the crew remains and the weapons. 

“Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent”

STEVE MARTIN

I told my wife I was going to go check it out. She encouraged me to go but said it would be difficult due to my physical condition. I convinced her I could do it. I have a neurological disease called Char-Cot-Marie-Tooth. The lack of nerve and muscle stimulation causes atrophy in my hands and feet, creating a loss of strength, balance, and foot drop.

One morning, a couple of friends and I decided to hike down to the wreckage. The journey down was difficult, and I fell a few times, trip all the time, but I made it and enjoyed looking around and checking things out. But then, we had to start back up. 

I never imagined the journey would be so difficult. About a third of the way up, I couldn’t go anymore. I couldn’t feel my legs, my heart rate was way up, and the altitude took away my breath. I told one of my friends,

I don’t think I can make it, call a rescue helicopter to come to get me.” 

I wanted to give up. My body was begging me to stop, and my mind wished to follow suit. But I persisted and I made it to the top—lungs, and heart intact. Everyone clapped and hugged me! What made me continue to go and achieve my goal? Persistence.

During the COVID-19 crisis, leaders have become stretched beyond their knowledge and capabilities. All levels of leadership are experiencing this. As I continue working with leadership in these difficult times, I’ve seen some high-level leaders fail and watched other leaders persist through the challenges. 

So how does one persist through the challenges? Well, I identified six things I did to maintain my persistence to the top of the mountain. In thinking through each one, I realized these could certainly help increase a leader’s persistence in a challenging and stressful time.

Here are the six things that helped me keep going t when everything in me wanted to quit. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to give up, refer back to these, and I believe they can help you.

Ignore everyone

“Energy and persistence conquer all things”

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

At the beginning of the climb, I saw all my friends climbing with ease. Every time I saw someone hiking with ease, I felt terrible about myself. But when I stopped worrying about what others were doing and focused on my persistence to achieve my goal, I began to focus on my mission and how I was going to make it. When leading in difficult times, you need every ounce of energy to persist through the challenges. Focus your efforts on what matters.

You are your biggest supporter

I’m going to make you so proud”

NOTE TO SELF

When I started the hike, I was hanging with everyone. However, within 15 minutes, I was far behind and alone. At first, I was frustrated; my friends abandoned me, but then I realized my burden wasn’t for anyone else to bear. Eventually, one of my friends realized I was not doing well and came to check on me. He encouraged me to persist through this. That motivated me to turn inward and find the strength and determination to keep going. I began to encourage myself with every step. Leading in challenging times means that sometimes you have to hike alone. If you find yourself in that position, find a way to persist through it by encouraging yourself and realizing you had past achievements and will have future success.

Stop and appreciate the little things

The little things matter in life. Appreciate everything you see, hear and experience.

DENIS BAKER

I remember as I was climbing up the mountain, I would have to stop often to catch my breath. When I was standing there, I began to notice how the wreckage spread out alongside the mountain, and the field was a lot larger than I thought. As I continued in my persistence, I kept getting glimpses of the beauty all around. In those moments, I gave no thought to my struggle. In these challenging times, persistence will increase your confidence and leadership ability. Focus on the journey to the finish line. Embrace new experiences and welcome the struggles and challenges.

Focus on the next step

Remember that our persistence today creates reality for tomorrow.

Denis Baker

On my climb back up the mountain, I would get discouraged when I would see how far away I was from the top. I realized that if I persisted through the struggles, I would make it to the top! When we face difficult challenges, we can struggle with the thought of eliminating anything the impossible, which opens the door for resistance to creep in. By persisting through difficulties, you can keep build momentum and achieve success. Remember that our persistence today creates reality for tomorrow.

Stop looking for a way out

“The easy way out usually leads back in”

PETER SENGE

I wanted a helicopter to get me out of there! I couldn’t go anymore; I didn’t have the strength. I even asked one of the guys to carry my fat body out. When you are suffering, or in pain, it is easy to want to make it go away. But when you persist through the pain and struggles, you will overcome and set yourself up for long-term growth.

Recognize your limitations

“Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits”

UNKNOWN

I had to be honest with myself. I was in pain, couldn’t breathe, and didn’t have the same strength in my legs as everyone else. I was pushing my body to the limit. My approach needed to change. After realizing I would not keep up with everyone and that I was going to make it to the top a long time after everyone else got up there. I realized through my persistence; I would make it to the top. Your leadership process might not look like everyone else’s, and that’s OK. We all lead differently. Instead, maintain your persistence, and you will see success.

SUMMARY

As we continue through this crisis, there will continue to be many challenges, difficulties, and a bunch of bumps and bruises along the way. When the journey becomes more uncomfortable than what you are used to, it can be easy to throw in the towel and retreat. But if of persist through the challenges, you can find the strength to keep going, and will discover the reward was worth the effort.

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.

CREATING A STRONG AND SUCCESSFUL T.E.A.M.

“One is too small of a number to achieve greatness.”

John C. Maxwell

Teams are essential in every aspect of life. Whether you’re working on a deadline, organizing a community project, or coordinating schedules, everyone must be willing to work as a team. Teams allow us to work towards accomplishing our desired goals, objectives or tasks. Everyone is part of a team. If you are married, you are part of a team with your spouse.

If you are employed, you are part of a team with your colleagues. If you give your time to a church or organization, you are part of a team of volunteers. Being a part of a team in some capacity is inevitable. We celebrate great human achievement and often view a single person as the hero of a great accomplishment. However, if you look below the surface, you will see that most solo acts are team efforts. 

As an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team, working with various teams is a big part of my business. My basic knowledge and ideas come from leadership expert and author, John C. Maxwell. This article will provide the path for you and your team to understand how to build a strong team and how successful collaborations works.

Successful companies need strong TEAMs! Without a strong team, you may accomplish little, but you won’t accomplish anything significant. So what makes a strong team? 

T – TRUST

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.

Simon Sinek

You can’t build a team without trust. Trust is the emotional glue that binds a team together. If you don’t trust someone, you don’t have confidence in that person. Without confidence, you can’t achieve anything of value.

What builds trust?

  • Consistency. People must learn to trust you. The more the team spends time together, the more trust they will develop.
  • Loyalty. I believe that loyalty to your team is critical. I will publicly defend my team members before I even know what the issue is. Loyalty builds trust.

You’ll know when your team significant to trust each other because you’ll see them delegate to other team members.

E – ENERGY

“You give life to what you give energy to.” –

Unknown

You and your teams are doing work with goals and objectives that will ultimately achieve the vision. That’s why I encourage you to have what I call “relaxed concern.” In other words, while you need to recognize that success and failure hang in the balance for many teams, no one should be tightly wound all the time.

You must understand that teams work hard, the energy is high, and the results are impressive. However, if you don’t manage the activities and provides the necessary resources, you’ll burn the teams out quickly. I have seen this happen in many companies, churches, and organizations.

People give their best effort, and it continues for long periods and many roadblocks and walls. Their problem isn’t that they’re not dedicated enough, but instead they don’t kknow when to relax.

A – APPRECIATION

Dear Team, You are all amazing; keep up the great work!” 

Unknown

Appreciation means to raise in value. It’s the opposite of depreciation. If you’ve ever bought a new car, you know it depreciates the moment you drive it off the car lot—it goes down in value.

Appreciation means you raise the value of something. When you show appreciation for a spouse or a child, you’re increasing their value. The same is true for your workforce or volunteers. The more appreciation you express, the more you’ll improve the value of their efforts.

How do you do that?

  • Affirm their efforts. Make a point to notice and recognize publicly what your TEAMS are doing well.
  • Affirm their loyalty. Let your team know that you appreciate the time and effort spent on the projects or activities. 
  • Affirm their uniqueness. Every team member is different. Let them know you see those differences as strengths that help your teams work effectively.
  • Affirm their ideas. Your teams will be as creative as you allow them to be. Let them know you appreciate all ideas so they will continue to share them.

M – MISTAKES

“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”

Denis Baker

Mistakes are useful—they teach us what doesn’t work. Any creative team will make mistakes. If there are never any mistakes, is the team being creative?

SUMMARIZE

Teams are a way of life; we can’t survive without teams. To excel in life and our profession, we need to be a good team member and leader. By building strong teams, we can create success. Let’s soak up all the qualities and skills of each team member to create the most energetic team possible!

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.

Kickstart Your Approach to Behavior Change With These 10 Quotes

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

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

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

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.

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!

If it’s Lonely at The Top, Then Something’s Wrong

 

Executive-Coaching

During a recent executive coaching session, my client and I were engaged in a conversation about leadership when he made the following statement;

“I am passionate about leading my staff, but I don’t feel anyone cares or likes me.” 

It is true many leaders feel lonely. In fact, one of the most common phrases I hear during coaching sessions is: “it’s lonely at the top.”   I disagree with the context of that statement. And so does John Maxwell. In his book, Leadership Gold, John says;

“If you are lonely at the top, then you are doing something wrong.” 

As leaders, we spend our days surrounded by people, so the last thing we expect is to feel alone, but many do. Why? I believe the feeling of loneliness is a not a positional issue, but rather one of personality.

Let me take a few words y from John Maxwell’s book, Leadership Gold to explain. In his book, John says; “If you are leading others and you’re lonely, then you’re not doing it right. Think about it. If you’re all alone, that means nobody is following you. And if nobody is following you, you’re not really leading! What kind of a leader would leave everyone behind and take the journey alone”?  John Maxwell answers that question with;

“a selfish one.”

As leaders, our job is to make people better. To give them the tools and knowledge to achieve their greatest desires.

However, if you’re feeling lonely, it can lead to many things like; poor decision-making, inept problem-solving, frustration, dysfunctional teams, and angry and frustrated employees. Not to mention the internal stress that builds and eventually causes negative behavior and discord between your spouse or significant other and those within your inner circle. Success is nowhere to be found.

There is no doubt that Colin Powell’s statement; “sometimes leadership means pissing people off” is true. Leaders must hold people responsible and accountable for their actions or lack thereof.  This can cause a temporary feeling of isolation or loneliness. Jack and Suzy Welch wrote in a Business Week article: “There’s something about being a boss that incontrovertibly lends itself to isolation. I’ve learned that people dislike people who hold them accountable and will withdraw themselves. I might even say that if you’re feeling some loneliness, you might be on the right track to becoming an effective leader.

I have been there.  I know how lonely it can feel. But my loneliness is base on my desire to have friends, to enjoy conversations and laugh and tell jokes. But leaders must remember; we are not here to make friends, but rather build relationships. When we realize our job is to build relationships, create trust and add value, we’ll do everything we can to connect with those we lead and create an atmosphere of coaching and collaboration. When that occurs, your not lonely, your fully engaged!

How do we eliminate the loneliness at the top and get our leadership focus right?

Here are five principles I lead by to eliminate the loneliness of leadership:

  1. I’m VISIBLE every day. I make a point to talk face to face or through the phone or video chat with EVERY direct report. I also strategically reach out to indirect reports to continue to build those relationships.
  2. I set clear BOUNDARIES with my team. I lead through a philosophy of Ready, Fire Aim. Meaning I empower my team to identify what needs to be done and go do it! We’ll make it perfect as we progress. However, there are boundaries in regards to people, operational interruptions and costs. When setting boundaries, be careful not to shut yourself off from your team.
  3. I INVOLVE my team in the vision and strategic plan. I make it a priority to get people involved in the process of decision-making, problem-solving, communication, and training.  I make sure everyone has input.
  4. I spend a large part of my time COACHING my team. I meet with each direct report weekly and conduct one-on-one coaching session where we continue to set, adjust and create goals and objectives, conduct on-going performance reviews and develop a mentoring relationship using character-based coaching to achieve their desired goals.
  5. I make sure and COLLABORATE with those outside of my direct reports and team. I made it a priority to meet with every department once a month to listen to their concerns and suggestions, as well as to share information.

There is no doubt that being a leader offers extraordinary challenges in connecting, building relationships and creating an atmosphere of trust. However, just because you’re no longer invited to lunch doesn’t mean that you’re a terrible leader.  Don’t take it personally. More importantly, accept it, because the more you try to be liked, the more you’ll compromise your role and lose respect from the team. Remember you are not there to create friendships, but rather build relationships.

happy-leaders

 

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

9 Real Reasons Why People Leave Their Jobs

Why do people leave jobs? Good question. I have been actively employed in the professional job market for a while. In that time, I have enjoyed multiple positions with multiple employers achieving both high and low results. However, there hasn’t been one position that I haven’t learned something new or how to become a better leader. In fact, I’ve learned more, become more diverse and become a stronger leader through the character I’ve built through the various situations and interactions I encountered. I wish it were the way it used to be. People got a job, the employees worked hard, the company recognized their value and so employees stayed for 30, 40 or 50 years. Nowadays, most employees get 3-5 years out of a job and turnover has become a day in the life of an organization.unhappy ee However, in my research, I’ve found the cost of turnover and employee retention costs to be astounding. Here is some of what I found:

  • 51 % of workers are looking to leave their jobs (Gallup)
  • 40 % of employees are considering employment outside of their current firm within the next year (SHRM)
  • 34 % of employees say they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months (Mercer)
  • 74 % of all workers are satisfied with their jobs; 66 percent of those are still open to new employment (Jobvite)
  • Cost of replacing entry-level employees: 30 to 50 % of their annual salary (ERE Media)
  • Cost of replacing midlevel employees: 150 % of their yearly salary (ERE Media)
  • Cost of replacing high-level or highly specialized employees: 400 % of their annual salary (ERE Media)
  • 44 % of Millennials say, if, given the choice, they expect to leave their employer in the next two years (Deloitte)
  • 45 % of employees reported that they would be likely or very likely to look for another job outside their current organization within the next year (SHRM)
  • 47 % of Americans would leave for their ideal job even if it meant less pay (Adobe)

This information made me raise my eyebrows but didn’t really surprise me. Some of these are the reason(s) I left a job or two, and it confirms some of the feedback I’ve received in exit interviews.

So why do people leave their jobs? Here are 9 reasons I put together based on my experience and feedback from others.

  1. The Leader – More than 50% of people leave their job because of their boss. Whether it is a weak relationship or a lack of character and integrity, people will leave a job if they don’t feel comfortable working in that environment. People don’t typically leave a company, they leave the people. This is an accurate statement for me personally. I struggle with people who are poor leaders. Early in my career, I would merely find another job rather than work on my influence with that leader. However, I matured. I’ve realized that you can effectively influence your leader through your diligent hard work and your consistent character. When people see who you are in all situations, they tend to buy into the person and work to change their interactions and ways.
  2. BORED! – Same stuff day after day. People want to feel they’re moving forward and growing in their professional life. They want to have something to aspire to. If there’s no structure for advancement, they’ll look somewhere else. In the meantime, they’re likely to be bored, unhappy, and resentful-and that will affect performance. No one wants to be bored and unchallenged by their work.
  3. Overworked – There are seasons of being overworked. Stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed come with many jobs, but so does burnout.  If the season never changes, then employees will look elsewhere. Consider this,  it’s often the best employees, the most capable and committed and the most trusted that we overload most. If they find themselves continually taking on more and the perception is there is no end in sight, then they feel they’re being taken advantage of.
  4. A Blurry Vision – There’s nothing more frustrating than a workplace filled with visions, but no actions to achieve. I’ve worked at many places where the vision is posted on the website, are framed and hanging in each office. I even had a CEO tape our the company vision to every door in the building. However, I never saw the actions to achieve that vision. In fact, I bet you could still find some of them hanging after 2 years of leaving. What person wants to spend his or her time and energy in support of something undefined or merely hype and talk? People don’t want to spend their time and effort just spinning their wheels.
  5. Profits Over People – When an organization values its bottom line more than its people, the people go elsewhere. The result is a culture of underperformance, low morale, and even disciplinary issues. Of course, things like profit, output, pleasing stakeholders, and productivity are essential, but success ultimately depends on the people who do the work.
  6. Feeling Undervalued – It’s human nature to want to be recognized and praised for a job well done. And in business, recognizing employees is not merely a nice thing to do but an effective way to communicate your appreciation for their efforts and successes. This will reinforce those actions and behaviors that make a difference. When you fail to recognize employees, you’re not only failing to motivate them but also missing out on the most efficient way to reinforce high performance.
  7. No Trust – Trust is crucial to influence, and influence is required to lead people. Employees view your behavior and weigh it against your commitments. If they see you dealing unethically with vendors, cheating clients, or failing to keep your word, the best will leave.
  8. Lack of Transparency – Hoarding or not sharing information will cause people to leave. A person who hoards information does it to control the outcome.Patrick Lencioni’s masterpiece The Five Dysfunctions of a Team indicates the foundation for any good relationship is trust, and that foundation of trust just cannot happen without transparency at work. As a result, employees working for managers who share information will work harder for them, respect them more, be more innovative, and solve problems much faster.
  9. Corporate Culture – While it’s not the top for leaving a job, the overall company culture affects an employees attitude and ultimately influences their decisions to go. Some questions to consider when evaluating the company culture.

Does the organization appreciate employees, treat them with respect, and provide compensation, benefits, and perks in line with competitors?

Is the work environment conducive to employee satisfaction and engagement?

Do you provide events, employee activities, celebrations, and team building efforts that make employees feel that your organization is a great place to work?

Ultimately, many people leave their job because of the boss, not the work or the organization.

Job SatisfactionPeople create results. And Leadership is essential to attracting and maintaining talented results-oriented people. Ask yourself what you may be doing to drive your best people away, and start making the changes needed to keep them.