Greetings friends! As we embark on this journey through the back half of the year, let’s take a moment to reflect on the profound impact that words can have on our lives. As Yehuda Berg beautifully stated, “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” This sentiment echoes throughout history, as Abraham Joshua Herschel adds, “Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts as a sound, ends in a deed.”
Let’s delve into the incredible influence that a single word can wield in shaping our thoughts, decisions, and actions. Just as a rudder steers a ship through uncharted waters, our chosen word can act as our guiding star, providing us with direction and purpose.
The Magic of One Word
Incorporating a single word into our lives is a practice that extends beyond personal resolutions. Many organizations have adopted this approach as part of their annual business planning. Words such as “growth,” “act now,” and “drive” become more than just mere terms – they become rallying points, unifying teams around a shared vision.
Through aligning language, these organizations discover that the challenge of fostering cohesion and clarity is greatly diminished. With a single word to spearhead initiatives, track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and shape strategies, a renewed sense of focus takes root. Furthermore, the added perk of creating memorable swag helps spread the message even further!
“My idea of Christmas whether old fashioned or modern is very simple: loving others ”. Bob Hope
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” Mark Twain
Ah, one holiday down one to go. Or two if you’re already looking ahead to New Years. I hope that you had a wonderful holiday and that you’re not beating yourself up over the extra calories consumed while making those wonderful memories. Speaking of those extra calories, I believe we added two new traditions at our household. One is Panettone French toast. Oh, so decadent and delicious. Using Panettone bread for your base takes traditional French toast to a whole new level. And the second is pumpkin gnocchi. We found a recipe online by who else than the great Emeril Lagasse and it is a keeper. Emeril would say “if you think big then it’s going to be big”. His pumpkin gnocchi are a big deal at our house. Moving on to Christmas, we must remember to add the merry to our Merry Christmas.
Holiday blues are natural
Holiday is a time of cheer, but if you are like many of us this holiday left us exhausted and maybe with a tinge of the blues. That is natural. The commercialized view of the holidays makes them seem flawless and filled with endless energy and cheer. The reality for most of us returning to work after the holiday today is that we don’t feel refreshed and energized from the long weekend like we feel we should. Rather we feel like we need a holiday from the holiday. Realizing that the season has just begun has perhaps terrified you as much as the scale in your bathroom.
Here is the thing, and therefore why this is being discussed on a leadership podcast. I have said many times before leadership is inspiring others’ actions through our own actions. Speed of the leader; speed of the team. Those that look to us for how they should feel every other time of the year are depending on us now during the holidays. Does that mean you need an S on your chest and superhero powers? Certainly not. But if you find a way to manage your stress and anxiety during this busy time you will help others manage theirs.
Add the Merry to Your Merry Christmas
“Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent”. Bill Gates
“If you want to be fast and agile, keep things simple. Speed isn’t the result of simplicity, but simplicity enables speed”. Jim Highsmith
Did you catch the clue in today’s quotes about our subject matter? Yes, it’s agility and leading with speed. I was talking about leadership with one of my new colleagues and mentioned the characteristics hungry, humble, and smart. Gino Wickman in his book Traction would say Get it, Want it, and Capacity where capacity includes the emotional capacity or emotional intelligence to do the job well. I may be stretching that capacity includes humility, but I think you must be capable of bigger things without letting them get to your head. My colleague was quick to add agile and he couldn’t be more right. It’s not enough to be smart enough to get the job done or driven enough to see the project to completion and having the capacity to get it done is important, but all three of these things aren’t good enough if you can’t learn, adapt, and change quickly. Success loves speed. Today’s leader needs agility.
“As we express our gratitude we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them”. John F. Kennedy
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them”. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Happy Memorial Day and a big thank you to all of our past and present service men and women out there.
When I think of a holiday like today I think of the key element which is service. To serve, which makes me think of how service relates to leadership. We have all heard the term servant leader or servant leadership. When you hear those words what kinds of images come to mind or what actions do you think are represented by a servant leader? What I have witnessed is that the term is very misrepresented. Many confuse a leader doing someone else’s work for them with being a servant leader. We would all love a boss that does our job for us right? They may win a popularity contest, “most liked leader”, but someone else doing your job for you is not going to build your skillset, challenge you to do more, or inspire you.
What Most Think Servant Leadership Is
Many leaders roll their sleeves up and get in the trenches. Sometimes it is necessary for the needs of the business, or to provide the example for others to follow. (more…)
As 2020 comes to a close are you like many asking ourselves who do we want to be in the new year? Reflection is a powerful self improvement tool many of the greatest leaders use. Reflection involves the leadership questions you ask yourself before establishing priorities and goals for the new year.
“Learning without reflecting is a waste. Reflecting without learning is dangerous”. Confucius
“Follow effective actions with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective actions.” Peter Drucker
Fun fact on the author of our last quote – Peter Drucker, in addition to being one of the most influential thinkers in management of all time he had over 20 honorary degrees from colleges and universities all around the world. 20! So here’s a man whose work was so influential that these institutions of higher learning wanted his name associated with them. That’s technically all an honorary degree is. A way for a school to connect someone’s credentials, their accomplishments, their brand to the school.
That’s influence. Creating an image so great that a university will give you FOR FREE something that has value in the US of let’s say 10’s of thousands of dollars. So I ask you who wants your name associated with them? What are you doing to build your brand? How are you manifesting your influence so that others want to be connected to you? Maybe not colleges giving you degrees FOR FREE, but how about someone being proud to say “hey, I’m on so and so’s team. This is the team you want to be on.”
I have an acquaintance who’s a speaker and author who would say it this way “do people salivate when they hear your name.” Extreme right? Creating that culture where being on your team evokes more action and better results because people on your team want to be able to continue to connect themselves with your brand and to do that they know they need to perform.
Whew! That’s influence! That’s leadership!
Leaders let’s take just a couple of minutes here and discuss reflection and the leadership questions you ask yourself.
First, what is it? Reflection is about questioning, in a positive way, what you do, what you say and why you do or say it and then deciding if there is perhaps a better way. Why it’s important? Self-reflection is essential for personal growth. Taking the time to create self-awareness will allow you to challenge your thoughts and to uncover breakthroughs. Without it, we have the potential to be reactive to people and situations. Reactive is not a position of power or influence. It’s a defense.
Here’s another reason why. We all know that growth requires change. Change requires two things. A starting point, where you are currently. And, a destination, what you are going to change. Without creating self-awareness through reflection, it is going to be very difficult to assess the gap between the two and the proper actions needed to close the gap.
Here are 3 times when reflection can come into play.
Has your leadership status plateaued? Here’s one way to fuel your leadership status to unstoppable.
“You can’t build any kind of organization if you’re not going to surround yourself with people who have experience and skill base beyond your own.” Howard Schultz
“When you’re the best, you only want to surround yourself with the best.” Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Leaders need to remember that we are in the service of humans business. As Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.”
The talent you surround yourself is what gets you promoted, not your own talent.
Reflecting on my own past and observing many amazing leaders I will tell you this. I never received a promotion based solely on my contributions. Perhaps, getting into that entry level leadership position will be based on your performance, but after that you will be recognized on the performance of the people you surround yourself with.
You’ve heard the term control the controllables. People is a controllable that many leaders do not see as one because they don’t take true ownership of their team. (more…)
Three (with a bonus fourth) Way Leaders Make Work Fulfilling
“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek
“On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.” – Marilyn Carlson, former CEO of Carlson Companies
How To Be 21% More Profitable
As leaders we know that we need to create engaged employees. Kevin Kruse wrote an article in Forbes defining employee engagement like this: “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” He goes on to say “When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.” Discretionary effort? What does that mean? It means they do things because they want to do them. They choose to go above and beyond.
“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic, Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care
“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.” – Timothy R. Clark, The 5 Ways That Highly Engaged Employees are Different
That is why high engagement is a common thread in the world’s most successful organizations and Gallup puts a 21% more profitable number to it. That’s money you can take to the bank.
3 Ways Leaders Make Work Fulfilling
As I mentioned, this doesn’t come naturally, leaders must create the proper environment for this to happen. One of my favorite authors, Patrick Lencioni, explains how in The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Most leaders who are readers have read Patrick Lencioni’s books. Most notably The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you haven’t read it yet, read it now. I’ve used The Three Signs of a Miserable Job as a developmental tool for leaders for years. Not as popular as some of his other books, but I think this one is a gem and if you are a leader wanting to create a more engaged workforce this is a must read.
Here are the 3 signs:
Let’s start at the top. Anonymity. People who see themselves as invisible, generic, or anonymous cannot love their job, no matter what they are doing. Leaders need to find unique qualities of each employee and keep in mind that work is not their lives. Work can be an important fulfilling part of their lives, especially if their leader shows genuine interest in them. Most importantly, employees who feel valued will value your customers and clients. It’s a magical trickle-down effect. Happy employees produce happy clients.
“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic, Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most
The second sign of a miserable job is irrelevance. Employees must feel their work is important to someone in the organization. From the book, “Human beings need to be needed, and they need to be reminded of this pretty much every day. They need to know that they are helping others, not merely serving themselves.”
“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” – Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard, Do People Really Know What You Expect from Them?, Fast Company
The most famous story we have all heard before that illustrates an employee understanding their relevance is the story of the janitor who, when asked by JFK what he did stated, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” That’s seeing the big picture. That is relevance.
And finally, immeasurability. We’ve all heard if it can’t be measured it can’t be improved. Every employee needs a number. They don’t need a scorecard with a dozen metrics, but at least one number. “Numbers create accountability. When you set a number, everyone knows what the expectation is.” Gino Wickman, Traction. The communication is so much clearer when there is a common number to speak to. Some positions are easier than others to assign a number to, but you can find a measurable for practically everything. How many new clients will you sign on this quarter? 10. How many seconds before a client is greeted in your office? 10. How many rings before the phone is answered? Better not be 10. How about 2.
Recognition isn’t one of the 3 signs, if it were then there’d be four, but let’s not leave out recognition. This will ensure that you, as a leader, make work fulfilling.
“Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.” – Frances Hesselbein, Hesselbein on Leadership
Put these 4 lessons in your leadership toolbox and make it a great week.
Leadership is a transfer of beliefs. That is why it is crucial your team needs these four words from you. I believe in you. When you believe in them, they begin to believe in themselves and amazing things happen.
“People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.” – Neil Gaiman
“The fact is, you do not believe what you see, but rather, you see what you already believe. Your deeply held beliefs distort your worldview and cause you to see things not the way they are but the way you are.” Brian Tracy
The Wallet Thief
Yes, it’s still 2020. The year where nothing is crazy because everything is crazy. Our daughter graduated college and unfortunately did not get to walk with her classmates and our son turned 16 and couldn’t get his license because the DMV was closed. Imagine all that excitement you had leading up until your sweet 16. Counting down the days, planning where that first road trip will take you and the poof gone. Yes, worse things have happened during the pandemic, but when you are 16 not being able to get your freedom is pretty tragic especially when you have your sights on a girl who is a senior and can drive and today things are different.
These kids do everything officially harder. When I was 16 if you went on a date and then went on a second date you were pretty much a couple. Today, there has to be a plan. Have you seen the promposals? So, my son plans to take her hiking for the day and when he finds the perfect romantic spot he will ask her to be his girlfriend. The same kid who won’t take the extra effort to bend over and put the dish in the dishwasher instead of on the counter is going through this effort for a girl.
The two are at the park all day. It was probably a very nice escape for them, except when my husband called to check in our son told him that his wallet was gone. Now when you are 16 pretty much everything you own fits in a wallet. He was devastated and when he got home there were a lot of accusations about the supposed wallet thief. Someone lifted it out of my backpack, someone took it spiraling down into a dark negative place and I said Sean you have to believe that people are good. No one wants to keep your wallet you will get it back. It’s like a switch went off. Instantly, he was telling himself a new story. A great person found my wallet and is trying to get it back to me.
What we believe about people is what we see in people.
What we believe about people is what we see in people. If we want to see something more from people, we don’t go to them and say “I need this from you” – sometimes that is the answer, but first you have to check your beliefs about a person. Do I believe that they are doing the best they can? Do I believe they want to do a good job? What am I seeing in this person that reflects my beliefs?
If you lead others now what do you believe about your team?
The Difference Between Meh or Magnificent
“Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss… But every once in a while, you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.”
― Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped
There is an employee engagement survey question “do you have a best friend at work?” Most of my former coworkers would agree we were family. Our employer filed chapter 7 this year and I miss people the most.
Have you ever walked into a room and suddenly noticed someone who is the center of the room? Similarly, a person walks into the room and the entire place brightens up? This describes who I miss the most. A great business partner with infectious energy. I’ve found it is impossible to not change your state when she is present. The root is simple. She is passionate about what she does and; above all, she believes in her purpose. Her passion and belief fill her with energy which transfers to everyone in the room.
Enthusiasm is Key
For successful people, enthusiasm is a key driver of passion and achievement. It comes from within. Enthusiasm for a goal will produce energy driving you to do your best. The motivation generated will see the goal through to success.
As a leader, how can you expect your team to be excited about anything if you are not? Your enthusiasm towards the goal will inspire your team’s enthusiasm. Leadership is a transfer of beliefs witnessed through the leader’s actions.
“Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles. “ Og Mandino
Job Seekers Must Bring It
For job seekers out there, this is very important too.
My 16-year-old has been applying for his first job and the only advice I have given him is bring energy. (more…)
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Harry S. Truman
“Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.” Mark Twain
Leaders are Learners
One thing I know for certain, that probably launched me further in my career than any other thing, is that leaders are learners. They possess the discipline of self-improvement. You see, if you want things to be better: you want to be a better leader, you want better results, you want a better career, you want better movement up the up the ladder to bigger and better roles, you want to be the better candidate for the job, you want better relationships. The only way to get better things is to be better yourself.
There is never a point where our need to grow stops. No matter what level of success we reach we can never stop learning and feeding our minds with new thoughts and ideas. Many times, it doesn’t even need to be new thoughts. Reminding ourselves of what we already know can send us off refreshed and inspired.
Successful people will tell you the same thing: you need to make an investment in yourself, you need to read, you need to continuously be learning. We have all heard it. Probably none of us have ever heard anyone dispute it; leaders are learners. Yet, few will make the time to do it. (more…)