Building Businesses and People to be the best they can be!

Posts tagged ‘equipping’

You Can Read Along

In today’s blog I find myself writing to myself, but you can read along with me and see if you find something to help you as you travel along your journey.

What has become of all I dreamed of doing? I have  achieved some of the dreams I had when I was younger, but not nearly all.  Now, is it worth it to continue dreaming and think that others will come true??

Indeed! I must dream on! Without dreams, passions, or desires, my life will be dim in color, less exciting, and less interesting. Although life would rather push me down and try to discourage me, I must dream on!

Even though we all have unfulfilled dreams, desires and goals within us, should we allow those unfulfilled dreams to stop us from continuing to dream ? No!

Some dare to dream and make those dreams happen. We call them, Leaders.  Others leave those dreams behind, choosing instead to ignore what could be within their reach – and they often become frustrated or give up, thinking “If only…” or “What if…” Worse yet, they spend life constantly looking at what is not “fair” that is happening to them. Leaders recognize that things will not always go their way, in fact, they seldom do; but Leaders dream on!

There’s a wonderful little book called “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” an allegorical story about a seagull who dares to dream of a better life – and then does everything he can to make it happen. The author, Richard Bach, says, “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it however.” Leaders recognize this and learn to work smarter, not necessarily harder. They empower their Team and enable greatness to rise out of great synergy. Thus they forge ahead to their dreams. and the organization’s dreams.

How could my life and my Leadership be better today, if I would believe and adopt the above statement ? If I were prepared today to take action and make my dreams a reality, what would that give me? What would it give to those around me?

Ponder this with me and until next time, DREAM ON and DON’T GIVE UP!


Say What? Part 2

So what does active listening entail? How do you do it?
Listed below are a few tips to help us all be better listeners and for those talking to know that we are doing more than a surface job of hearing what they say. Remember, hearing is what most everybody is able to do in a conversation, listening is what the sincere Leader does!
Pay attention.

Give the speaker your undivided attention, respect, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.

  • Look at the speaker directly. Make eye contact if possible.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. Concentrate of what is being said.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language. Observe the non-verbal’s but don’t let it take you away from the conversation.
  • Refrain from side conversations when listening in a group setting. Focus, focus, focus!

Show that you are listening.

Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.

  • Nod occasionally.
  • Smile and use other facial expressions.
  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting. Don’t cross your arms or roll your eyes.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.

Provide feedback.

Our life experiences and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said and put aside prejudices. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions for clarification.

  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is.” and “Sounds like you are saying.” are great ways to echo back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically, just don’t cut off the speaker to do so.

Tip: If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: “I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is ***; is that what you meant?”.

 Defer judgment.

Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.

  • Allow the speaker to finish no matter how you may feel about what is being said.
  • Don’t interrupt with counter arguments. This makes the entire conversation useless and puts those around you on edge and an understanding becomes farther away if not impossible.

Respond Appropriately.

Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by verbally attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.

  • Be candid, open, and honest in your response but remain respectful. Remember that diversity is valuable in all areas of life.
  • Assert your opinions respectfully. Keep in mind that everyone has opinions and your’s is no more important that their’s.
  • Treat the other person as you would want to be treated in the same situation.
These are just a few ways to enhance your active listening skills, not to mention your personal and professional relationships.
Until next time, Listen, Listen and then Listen again!!!

Questions, Questions and more Questions

Leadership naturally requires you to be a curious individual and the more curious you are, the more successful you and your Team will be!! During Coaching interactions with your Team, ask many questions to help your Team Member arrive at the root issues of performance and production limitations. Too often as a Leader we are tempted to talk more than listen when dealing with Team Members. Time is too valuable to expend by droning on with your own assumptions and theories about possible issues and problems the Team Member might be facing or having.

Listed below are questions that any Leader can use to dig deeper into the  success well during any Coaching interaction:

* “What one thing could I do to make you more effective in your role?”

* What roadblocks are holding you back? (or preventing your projects from moving ahead?)

* What’s the most important issue you are dealing with in your life right now?

* What does the competition do better than us?

* What do we do better than our competition?

* If you were the President of this Company, what’s the first thing you would change and why?

* What do we/you do better than anyone else?

* Looking at your personal productivity, what two things do we need to work on to improve your productivity?

* What are the two key behaviors you need to keep doing to remain successful?

* What one thing can we do to make our weekly meeting more effective?

* What are your top three goals for this/next month?

* What one thing can you do today that will have the greatest impact on you reaching your goals?

* If I could do just one thing for you as a result of this discussion, what would it be?


If you incorporate a few of these questions into your coaching interactions and then follow the path they lead you on, you will be well on your way to moving your Team and yourself to victory!!

Until next time, keep asking questions!



Work Culture

Culture is around you at work all of the time. Culture shapes your work enjoyment, your work relationships, your work processes and your overall satisfaction with your job. Culture is something that you as a Leader must be constantly aware of, and improving upon. Culture begins with you!

In many ways, culture is like personality. In a person, the personality is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, interests, experiences, upbringing, and habits that create a person’s behavior. Culture is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group of people while being stirred and mixed daily by the tone set by the Leader.

Professors Ken Thompson (DePaul University) and Fred Luthans (University of Nebraska) highlight the following seven characteristics of culture.

  • Culture = Behavior. Culture is a word used to describe the behaviors that represent the general operating norms in your environment. Culture is not usually defined as good or bad, although aspects of your culture likely support your progress and success and other aspects impede your progress.A norm of accountability will help make your organization successful. A norm of spectacular customer service will sell your products and engage your employees. Tolerating poor performance or exhibiting a lack of discipline to maintain established processes and systems will impede your success.
  • Culture is Learned. People learn to perform certain behaviors through either the rewards or negative consequences that follow their behavior. When a behavior is rewarded, it is repeated and the association eventually becomes part of the culture. A simple thank you from an executive for work performed in a particular manner, molds the culture.
  • Culture is Learned Through Interaction. Employees learn culture by interacting with other employees. Most behaviors and rewards in organizations involve other employees. An applicant experiences a sense of your culture, and his or her fit within your culture, during the interview process. An initial opinion of your culture can be formed as early as the time the applicant inquires about employment.
  • Sub-cultures Form Through Rewards.. Employees have many different wants and needs. Sometimes employees value rewards that are not associated with the behaviors desired by managers for the overall company. This is often how subcultures are formed, as people get social rewards from coworkers or have their most important needs met in their departments or project teams.
  • People Shape the Culture. Personalities and experiences of employees create the culture of an organization. For example, if most of the people in an organization are very outgoing, the culture is likely to be open and sociable. If many artifacts depicting the company’s history and values are in evidence throughout the company, people value their history and culture. If doors are open, and few closed door meetings are held, the culture is unguarded. If negativity about supervision and the company is widespread and complained about by employees, a culture of negativity, that is difficult to overcome, will take hold.
  • Culture is Negotiated. One person cannot create a culture alone. Employees must try to change the direction, the work environment, the way work is performed, or the manner in which decisions are made within the general norms of the workplace. Culture change is a process of give and take by all members of an organization. Formalizing strategic direction, systems development, and establishing measurements must be owned by the group responsible for them. Otherwise, employees will not own them.
  • Culture is Difficult to Change. Culture change requires people to change their behaviors. It is often difficult for people to unlearn their old way of doing things, and to start performing the new behaviors consistently. Persistence, discipline, employee involvement, kindness and understanding, organization development work, and training can assist you to change a culture.
It is highly important for the Leader to be aware of the above contributing factors in Culture development. A Leader, through just a few encouraging acts or words can move a Culture quickly in a positive, uplifting direction. Conversely, a few unkind, destructive words can crash a Culture just as fast if not faster than the uplift from the encouraging Leader. Be cautious of the Culture you emit from your Leadership style. Remember, Leadership is about relationships and relationships build Culture!
Until next time, build an awesome Culture where you are!!

The Value of Others

Not long ago I was teaching a Leadership class and had touched on the fact that we need to care about the lives of those whom we lead. I wasn’t referring to becoming the employees Therapist or even their best friend, just caring about what made them tick and trying to find out a little about the issues that might stand in the way of top performance on the job. It seemed the group bought into this idea pretty well other than a couple of individuals that made the joking comment, “I don’t care what their problems are. Get to work and do your job!” We can all laugh at this and it can be a good bit of levity in a meeting setting. However, it is a motivation, profit and culture killer in the workplace!

I have worked in organizations that had that same attitude and I would like to share with you today what it feels like to be on the other side of that comment. Many of you will identify with me during the course of this blog and I would invite your comments on how you felt in a similar situation. Some, however, will be reading this and have made the comment listed above either in their mind or, (heaven forbid!) verbally. Please pledge today to never feel that way or make the comment ever again. In case you are new to this blog, my mantra is: Leadership is About Relationships! You can’t succeed without others!

When employed are XYZ Company I was young and had many things going on in my life. Often I would have issues that would distract from my production capability a little, to a lot! I knew what was going on in my head and was truly trying to not let it affect my performance but sometimes it seemed an uphill battle with no end in sight. This is a tale of two Supervisors, one we will call Tom and the other Bart.

Tom was a good man who cared about his employees and took a genuine interest in them as people, not just workers. Tom hired me and nurtured my strengths. Whenever I would have a bad day he would call me into his office or catch me out on the floor and pull me aside. He would ask me how my day was going and if anything new was happening in my life. If I did not offer anything of value up, he would tell me he noticed I was a bit different today and ask me if I thought I was acting any different. If I still didn’t give up anything he would ask me why I thought he was noticing a difference in me that day. Before long if I had not revealed what was going on in my life he would simply say, “Rod, you are not your usual self today and your production is off. I want you to remember whenever you come in our front doors to work that if you have anything you need to talk about, I’m here for your. I am not your Doctor, Lawyer or Therapist, but if you need an ear I will listen. You need and I need you to be at your best when you are on your job, so go back out there and do what Rod does best! Remember though, if you need to talk I am here. I want you to be successful and today you are not fully on that path.”

It never failed that eventually Tom and I talked. He never really gave me advise per se, but he listened and it made me feel better. He always helped me put my work/life balance in perspective and, because he cared about me, I grew in that company very quickly. Not only did I grow, but he rapidly became the Regional Manager over many locations and did very well for himself.

Let’s look now at Tom’s replacement Bart. Bart came into the picture after Tom moved up to a District Manager position. One day always sticks out to me as the defining description of Bart. As a matter of fact, to this very day, some 20 years later, every time I think of this man, I think of this one day. I had been promoted to the head of my department and it had become one of the top departments company wide through our teamwork under Tom. On this fateful day I was doing my job but for personal reasons was not on my game. Bart passed by the area I was working in and never said a thing. Which was not unusual, he never said, “Good Morning”, “Hello”, or anything of the sort when he arrived at work. Once he went by, he circled back and saw me standing and thinking. He approached and here was the entire conversation, “Long, you are a disgrace to this company! Seeing you stand there when you should be working makes me wonder why you were ever promoted in the first place! Tom isn’t here any longer to hold your hand so you better wise up or you are out of here! Now get to work and stop standing there like a tree!” Oh, I went to work alright! I soon went to work for another company!

Bart was fired after a year on his job when profits were down, sales plummeted, employee turnover was the norm and customer satisfaction was at an all-time low. Tom on the other hand, continued to rise and everything he touched turned to gold.

The simple truth for Leaders is: Leadership is About Relationships!!

Until next time, keep working on your relationships!


Adding Value

Leaders Add Value by Serving Others- The attitude of the Leader affects the entire work environment. If you desire to add value by being a resource, open and willing to serve others, you will leave a Legacy as a Leader.


Are you making things better for the people whom you lead???

  • If you can’t answer without a pause, then you likely aren’t.
  • 90% of all people who add value to others, do so intentionally. Humans are naturally selfish so adding value to others calls for the Leader to always be aware of opportunities to increase value in others.


Adding Value Changes Lives-

  • Truly Value Others– Legacy Leaders go beyond not harming others, they intentionally help others succeed. They must appreciate people for who they are, and what they bring to the mix of the work setting. This appreciation and belief must be genuinely demonstrated in ways that their Team can see.
  • Make Yourself More Valuable to Others– This takes a process of being purposeful and intentional in your own personal growth. The more you have to offer others, the more valuable you will be. Read, watch and learn!
  • Know and Relate to What Others Value– Learn what is valuable to your Team Members. This will require you to listen to their stories, hopes and dreams. Get to know the people that directly report to you, then lead based on what you have learned from them. This is not a manipulation of them, but a motivation of them.



The Story of Robert Owen:

Robert Owen (1771-1858) was an early industrialist–perhaps best known for his model textile factory and village at New Lanark Scotland. Owen developed an aid to motivation and discipline–the Silent Monitor system–which could be described as a distant ancestor of appraisal schemes in practice today. Each machine within the factory had a block of wood mounted on it with a different color–blue, yellow or red. Each day the superintendents rated the work of their subordinates and awarded each a color that was then turned to face the aisle so that everyone was able to see all ratings. His textile factory was one of the most profitable ones during this era.


It is important that the Leader recognize that adding value through an appraisal or an evaluation is a critical thing to do both in the short-term and at the 90-day mark. Employees will know they are appreciated and value can be added by using effective, accurate and informative appraisal systems.

The bottom line of a Legacy Leader is not how they advance themselves, but how far they advance others!

Coaching—- What is it?

Coaching is:-the process of equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and  opportunities they need to fully develop and be effective in their commitment to themselves, the company, and their work  -a “designed alliance” focused on developing an individual to become their “best self” and to contribute their “best fit” and talents -an ego-less process in which “coach-able moments” are created to draw out distinctions and promote shifts in thinking and behavior, and -a professional discipline and skill set, which enhances performance, action, creativity, momentum and transformation.