Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Do You Care?

Do you care deeply? Here is a great blog post a client shared with me recently. I strongly encourage you to read it and let me know what you think.

Seize the day!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Working Smarter Not Harder

In this post I am sharing with you a brief excerpt from my most recent newsletter that just went out. I hope you find it valuable.
Working Smarter Not Harder 
"If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time."  (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni).
Pessimist or Optimist?

When reading a quote like the one above there are a number of reactions that can follow. Some of you thought, "What? Are you kidding? That's impossible." Others thought, "Yes! We could do that."
Whatever your reaction was on that spectrum of pessimism to optimism the question remains. What would happen if you began moving your organization or team in that direction...even slowly? Think about the tangible and intangible benefits to your employees, customers, suppliers and community.
The Real Question
Let's ask the more important question at this point. Read more...
Seize the day!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is it Safe?

Here is a brief excerpt from my most recent newsletter. I hope you find it helpful.

Is It Safe In Here?

"The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders--customers, business partners, investors, and coworkers--is the key leadership competency of the new global economy." (The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey).

A Cultural Lynch-Pin
Trust is paramount. There is no other variable that has a greater capacity to positively influence a culture. It is important that leaders actively create and cultivate a culture of openness where people feel safe to tell the truth.
They should not only be able to speak openly and candidly, but this kind of behavior should be welcomed both by their peers and, most importantly, those who are in authority.
When this kind of culture exists, some very positive things happen.
  • there is a free exchange of information and ideas
  • creativity is unleashed
  • the real problems get discussed (remember they're getting discussed by the "water cooler" anyway)
  • the best solutions come to the surface

Seize the day!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Does Your Team Need a Physical?

Here is an excerpt from my latest newsletter. Hope you enjoy it.

Open Wide and Say, "Ahhhhh"

"A healthy culture is one where people know they are around a leader who will lead, who will actually take the reins, create the vision, be ahead of the pack, make the hard decisions, care about the people, and protect the mission and the goals. The people know who the leader is," says well-known author and clinical psychologist John Townsend (Master Leaders, George Barna).
True Leadership
Do people in your organization recognize you as a leader? You may have a leadership title or spot on the organizational chart, but are you truly a leader? Do people follow your lead because they have to or because they want to?
The answer to that last question will have a huge impact on your true leadership capacity - i.e. your ability to exert significant influence for lasting, positive change within your organization.
Clear, Strong Leadership
As I stated in a newsletter last year, "People want strong leadership...Strong does not mean overbearing or domineering, but rather consistent, capable and dependable."
Here are a series of questions, based on John Townsend's comments above, that are designed to help you honestly evaluate yourself. Read more...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reaching the Heart of Your Child

I am usually writing to help you become more effective in the leadership of your organization. However, as I have recently had some extended time away with my family and had the opportunity to speak to and work with other families at a camp out east I want to change my focus a bit for this post (and a couple more).

While the ability to lead our organizations is extremely important, the ability to effectively lead our families, and specifically our children, holds a much higher priority in my book. If I am successful in building a great organization, but fail at building the next generation, I have missed the most important mark. Why should the individuals I work with get more of my leadership talent than those who I brought into this world?

One of the most important things to me as a father is to ensure that I have the hearts of my children. So, where do we start? We need to start by reaching their hearts.

The main thing I need to do to reach the heart of my child is to exercise good active listening. I know that probably seems overly simplistic. However, I work with a lot of people in this area and find that most of them are not nearly as good at listening as they think they are.

When we listen well to our children, we give them a sense of value and demonstrate to them that they are important to us. But, many things get in the way: my Blackberry or iPhone, the conversation inside my own head, time pressure, judgments I make about what my child is saying, formulating my response before they finish speaking, not taking away my attention from what I was doing and giving it to them completely...and many more.

Active listening turns everything else off and focuses completely on the one speaking...your child. Active listening involves the following:
  • being intentional (purposeful, making an effort)
  • being curious about what they have to say
  • being focused completely on them
  • going beyond just their words (as much as 94% of communication is non-verbal)
  • paraphrasing and/or summarizing what they've said
It's time to practice. Take the first step toward becoming a better leader for your child. Work on your listening.

What challenges do you face? How can you overcome those challenges? Is it important enough to you to work at it?

Seize the day!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What Now?

This past weekend (Thu-Sat) I spoke at a conference sponsored by the Illinois Christian Home Educators. It was a great conference with many wonderful speakers. Even though I couldn't attend many break-out sessions because I was speaking myself, I took away a lot from the keynote addresses. That fact, along with a lot of good feedback from those who attended my sessions got me thinking. For them and for me...what now?

According to statistics that I have shared with you before, only 10% of people who hear a good, new idea ever do anything about it. So, how do we avoid become just another statistic, especially that one. There is a way to make the outcome a different one. It is a simple, but effective track to run on, if you are willing.

First, write down all of the action items associated with the material you took in. This requires that you set aside time to scan through your notes and record what you learned in terms of the action you need to take to make it happen. This can be a lengthy process, especially for those who attended a lot of good sessions and have a lot of notes, but it is well worth it.

Second, decide which action items are most important to you. Make a short list of 3-5 and keep the remainders on a separate list for when you are finished with the first list, or have the additional time to take them on. Steps 3-5 apply to each of the action items you decide to work on.

Third, for each action item, define the next (physical) actions required to move toward final completion. There may be a lot of individual steps, but define them each as specifically as you can.

Fourth, sit down with someone you know who will hold you accountable and tell them about your action item. Explain to them what you want to do and why it is important to you.

Fifth, set an appointment with that person for sometime in the next few days or weeks (whatever is most applicable to your situation) to discuss your progress with them. I encourage you to put together a short list of questions you want them to be sure to ask you.

Statistics show that if you are willing to go all the way through step #5, there is a 95% likelihood that you will do what you set out to do. have a choice. Which statistical category do you want to fall in?

Seize the day!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Helping Our Youth Get a Faster Start

One of the things I have really enjoyed about being a parent has been seeing my children grow up and begin to discover what they love to do...what they were made to do. I have eight beautiful children and they are all very different.

The other day I was having lunch with a friend and was sharing about what my four teenagers are planning on doing for careers. I have one who wants to be a mom & photographer, one who wants to be involved in counter-terrorism work for the FBI, one who wants to be a web/graphic designer and one who wants to be a filmmaker. And, while things could certainly change with time and experience, it is exciting to have children who have a solid idea of what they want to do well before they reach the college years.

The other exciting thing is that most of them are getting a chance to try it out before they sink a college career (and my money) into it.
  • My 18 yr old daughter has already started her own photography business and is really getting some traction. She is very talented. Check out her website to see some of her work.
  • My 15 yr old son is working on websites for his sister, a neighbor and his own business that he started with a friend.
  • My 14 yr old son has been working on editing a training DVD, getting it ready for sale by the gentleman who gave the seminar.
I say these things not to brag (at least not too much), but to make a point. My friend asked me at lunch the other day how in the world this happened. Initially, I didn't know how to respond. But, as I reflected for a few minutes it became clear.

Ever since our children began approaching their teens my wife and I have been very intentional about observing them to discover their passions and talents. And, we have tried to give them plenty of opportunities to explore them and try them out. I have also had my oldest three children take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment and this has provided some additional insights.

Our children don't have to wait until they are 30 to figure out what they want to do. Instead of being so overly focused on sports, let's help them discover what they were made to do. They'll love it.

Seize the day!