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…)
How to land your dream job.
“Do the best you can, with what you can, while you can, and success is inevitable.” Steve Maraboli
With the current pandemic and unemployment as high as it is it I know many of you are looking for the next move. Your next career. Many days you may be thinking why is my inbox empty? Why didn’t the recruiter call me or select me?
This week we are going to talk about some steps to take to help you land your dream job.
The company I worked for went out of business as the pandemic hit. Thousands of people were suddenly left jobless. Out of panic and fear many of them grabbed the first job they could without putting much thought into it. Today they are miserable. This morning they woke up dreading going to that job they hate. Or maybe, not even hate, just find it so-so and they feel themselves sliding down the spiral of being more and more complacent each day.
This is lesson 1 for the job seekers. Define your career search.
What type of company do you want to work for? (more…)
There are five things you can do to lead your team through challenge.
“Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” Washington Irving
I had a major setback that occurred about 3 weeks ago. I’m optimistically planning on running the Chicago marathon for the 3rd consecutive year and this was to be week 4 of official training. I had been logging some decent miles, but now it’s time to get serious and get to the grind.
I have two amazing dogs that I run with Moose and Belle. They are German Shorthaired Pointers and if you know the breed you know they are highly energetic dogs. These two are no exception. From the moment we wake up they demand attention just like a toddler. GSP’s are also very smart dogs. They know work clothes from running clothes. The minute they see the running shoes they get the zoomies.
It is hilarious to watch
But you know that saying it’s all fun until someone gets hurt. Bam! Moose zoomied right into my kneecap.
We still hit the pavement for 6 miles that day and with all certainty that made it worse. The knee is down and out and now the thing he wanted to do most we can’t do. Three weeks later its still not healed enough to put training miles on it.
Which road to take?
Decision time! There are two possible roads to take. Quit. Many would say this race is going to get canceled due to COVID anyway and now you can’t even train. You have an out. In fact, you have two outs. Or modify and adjust the plan to stick to this goal.
Many times, in business and life things aren’t going to go exactly as planned. In my experience, I’ve seen too many quit on a goal or a project because some of the initial milestones did not go as planned. This major mistake of giving up instead of retooling is what is getting in their way of unleashing their true potential. It’s why so many leaders plateau instead of rising to new levels of success. Anything worth doing is worth the struggle. Average is easy. It doesn’t take much effort to be an average leader. Greatness? Greatness doesn’t come easy. If it did, we would all be great. Greatness comes by pushing through adversity, rising through challenges, being true to your purpose and overcoming any and all obstacles that come your way.
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Nelson Mandela
“Don’t let the negatives of life control you. Rise above them. Use them as your steppingstones to go higher than you ever dreamed possible.” Mary Kay Ash
Here are some things that will lead your team through challenge (more…)
“Do one thing every day that scares you” Eleanor Roosevelt
For Father’s Day this year my daughter had a great idea to make dad a gift. She is 21 so hand made gifts have not happened at the Thompson household in quite a while and since she is beyond the years of drawing faces on golf balls and such, she thought it would be awesome to make him a grill prep table. She was right. It would be awesome. He never has enough workspace when he’s out there grilling and he always must run in and out balancing way to much in his hands.
But, how do you make a table? I’ve been in the furniture industry for 27 years, but I sell the stuff I don’t make it. No clue on how to make a table. You would think we could find the perfect table on YouTube. There were a lot of good tables. They just weren’t great. We were going to have to do this on our own or just skip it and think of something else. We’ve never built anything before. Zero experience.
Here’s How We Did It
Several trips to hardware stores
– so much math it made our heads hurt
– we came home with the supplies
– and then we went back for more
– and then maybe there was a third trip.
The table is built. The table is not good. It is not great. It is fricken’ awesome. This table rocks – and I know tables. We crushed it! There were a lot of high fives along the way as we couldn’t believe what we just accomplished. None was as great as when the entire box came together to form the table. We were so worried that we could get 2 or 3 sides together, but our dowels wouldn’t line up and that the last piece wouldn’t go in. It did, and did I mention that its fricken’ awesome?
Whether you win or you lose find the lesson. We were lucky and won this time. The lesson you must try new things. You can do the same things and have an ordinary life, or you can stretch yourself to try new things and have an extraordinary life. How do you know what you are capable of if you do not try? Sure, we could have bought dad another tie and he would have loved that it came from us, but this table . . .wow!
“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?” –Michelle Obama
“Life is worthwhile if you try. It doesn’t mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do, if you just try.” –Jim Rohn
“The hallmark of successful people is that they are always stretching themselves to learn new things.” –Carol S. Dweck
We are on Week 2 Day 2 of eating meatless on weekdays and today we made our own eggplant meatball recipe.
Since the Stay at Home order we have been eating well at the Thompson house. Too well. Although I’ve received a lot of flack over it, my husband actually came up with the idea to attempt going meatless on weekdays. Last week was the first week and we crushed it! There were no cheat days!
One difficulty has been finding recipes that don’t replace meat with another bad thing like frying in oil, a cup of soy sauce, or a pound of cheese. Today’s creation does have some cheese, but is very healthy.
Try our eggplant meatball recipe (even our 16 year old son ate them).
Note – the “Prepare the Eggplant” portion of the recipe can be done a day ahead. When I made this I prepared 2 eggplants. One for this recipe and one I cooked 15 minutes longer for baba ganoush.
These vegetarian meatballs are so amazing, even our 16 year old son ate them!
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
While the eggplant is cooling
Heat olive oil in frying pan on medium heat and cook onion until almost soft (3-5 minutes)
Add garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes
Remove from heat and let cool
Mix cheese into eggs and add salt, pepper, white pepper, cayenne, basil, and parsley. Mix together
Scoop flesh from eggplant and add to egg and cheese mixture. Discard the skin.
Add breadcrumbs and mix together
Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (makes 24)
Refrigerate 20 minutes
Place baking sheet in oven (still 400°) and cook for 30 minutes, carefully flipping once after the first 15 minutes.
Serve with a spicy marinara alone or on noodles, or zoodles (zucchini noodles)