Thursday, December 24, 2009

Traditions

A number of years back my wife and I became much more intentional about creating some family traditions, especially around days and seasons that are special to us.

For example, the day after Thanksgiving we always head out to get the Christmas Tree. Watch this short video of my 8 yr old son transporting the tree to the van. My other two younger daughters are with me as well.

video

As it is Christmas Eve I thought I would take just a few minutes to share some of the ones we have been practicing for a while, related to this special ocassion.

Maggiano's - our favorite restaurant as as family (besides Jason's Deli) is Maggiano's Little Italy in Oak Brook. Each year we get all dressed up and head out for a great meal. We order a couple different appetizers and five or six main dishes (for our family of 10!) and usually finish up with some good dessert. And, we always have leftovers to enjoy later. Yummm.

Movies - we usually try to watch one or two of the old-time favorites together (Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Bells of St. Mary, etc.)
Sleeping out - the children and I always camp out in the living room together in sleeping bags. It is getting harder and harder on this old body, but I still enjoy this aspect of our Christmas Eve.

So, what are some traditions that you and your family engage in? What memories are you creating together with those you love? If this is an area of weakness for you, let me encourage you to start today. Don't worry about the years lost. Look ahead with fresh vision and anticipation.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Seize the day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Do You See What I See?

Here is an excerpt from the newsletter that I just sent out this morning. Enjoy!

Creating Hope - This Is Your Time!
PILLAR #4

"You were meant to be here tonight...This is your time!"

Those are just a few of the inspiring words uttered to his team by coach Herb Brooks only minutes before the U.S. Olympic hockey team faced the Russians in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. As most of you know, those "boys" went on to stage one of the greatest upsets in sports history. (Click here to watch the full speech from the movie "Miracle". It's only 2 minutes...and very worth it.)

Many others have inspired great hope in their followers through their words and their deeds. I think of great men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Winston Churchill. One had "a dream" and the other saw "their finest hour..." Read more...

Seize the day!
www.joedenner.blogspot.com
www.alliantleadership.com
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Building and Maintaining Strong Relationships

Here is another excerpt from a previous newsletter.

Simple Building Blocks
A FIRM FOUNDATION FOR RELATIONSHIP

Maybe you're thinking, “Are you kidding? Building and maintaining relationships is NOT simple." I agree that people and relationships can be dauntingly complicated when looking at the big picture. However, most successful relationships can be built and maintained using relatively simple building blocks...the smaller pictures.

Consider communication as a small picture. The most common reason for "on the rocks" relationships is poor communication. Many factors play into a relationship, but the ability to be heard and understood by one another is the ultimate bottom line. Therefore, your ability to properly engage in the ordinary conversations of everyday life with your followers will be a critical building block in your relationship with them and your success as a leader. Read more...

Seize the day!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why is Having an Executive Coach Helpful?

Before I get into the value of executive coaching, here's a quick personal update: Things have been really busy for our family lately. We hosted a Regency Ball on November 13 (check out www.regencyball.blogspot.com for pictures and videos). It was fantastic, and it also consumed us for a week or two beforehand. After a week of recovery we enjoyed a very nice Thanksgiving day and weekend. We bought our Christmas tree, started decorating the house, played capture the flag and also went to our local Wheaton parade.

At the beginning of my Thanksgiving week I spent two days on my "Getting Things Done" implementation. I am now officially a GTD'er. If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out my last two blog posts. They are just a sliver of what I have been learning as I have read David Allen's book. I highly encourage you to check it out if you are looking for more stress-free productivity in your life.

On another note, recently one of my sons and I made a brief video clip about the value of having an executive coach. Take a quick look at this video to find out what I had to say.

video

Feel free to visit my website for more video clips and access to previous webcasts.

Seize the day!
www.joedenner.blogspot.com
www.alliantleadership.com
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Friday, November 20, 2009

Increasing Personal Productivity - Part 2

Watch this quick video for part 2 of Increasing Your Personal Productivity. If you haven't read yesterday's post I would encourage you to take a quick peak at that first.


video

I thope this was valuable. I know this minor shift in thinking has been very helpful to me in the last few weeks. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Seize the day!

http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

http://www.alliantleadership.com/

www.twitter.com/joedenner

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Increasing Personal Productivity - Part 1

Have you ever wished you could get more done in the time that you had? Do you have any items on your to-do list that just never seem to go away (i.e. get done)? Unfortunately, I have answered "yes" to both of these questions within the last few months.

In my reading I have stumbled onto something that has already helped me, and I think is going to make a big difference going forward. The beauty of it is that it is so simple.

I am currently reading David Allen's "Getting Things Done" and have grasped onto a simple, yet profound concept he calls "next actions." Let me give you an example.

Last week I came across an item on my to-do list called, "Follow up with ABC Company about potential project." It has been sitting on my list for well over two months. Every time I see it I say to myself, "Oh, yeah, I really need to do that...uh, later." Then I move on to something else. This time when I looked at it , however, I realized something important. I needed to define the next action.

Defining the next action simply means to define precisely the next physical action that is needed to complete the task. Many times our inaction is the result of not making a clear decision about what actually needs to be done. In my example above, "Follow up with ABC Company about potential project" is too vague. Was I going to call my contact? Was I going to send him and email? In either case, what was I going to say/write? So, when I would see that item on my list I subconciously recognized I hadn't made those decisions and, therefore, didn't really know what to do. As a result, I would move on to something else where I did know what to do.

Now that I have clearly defined the next action, the task is off my list. Voila!

In my next post, I will cover another simple, yet profound concept that has helped me improve my personal productivity.

Seize the day!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/
http://www.alliantleaedership.com/
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Providing Stability - Pillar #3

Here is an excerpt from my newsletter that just went out the other day. It is a continuation of the series on what people are looking for from their leaders. Enjoy!

Providing Stability - An Anchor in the Storm

PILLAR #3

We have been through, and continue to be experiencing some very challenging times. If your leadership has never been severely tested in the past, I am certain that it has been this last year.

People everywhere are looking to their leaders to provide a sense of security and stability. Although this has been particularly true in the recent downturn in our economy, the research done by Gallup shows this to be a consistent desire people have regarding their leaders.

A Solid Foundation
People want strong leadership. They want solid support they can count on. This is true regardless of the economic landscape. Strong does not mean overbearing or domineering, but rather consistent, capable and dependable.

When there is a firm foundation of leadership people are free to focus their energy and talents on the overall vision as well as the tasks at hand. Read more...

Seize the day!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/
http://www.alliantleadership.com/
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Goals That Work

Here is an excerpt from one of my earlier newsletters that focuses on how to help people set goals and make them happen. I hope you find it helpful.

Setting Goals that are SMART
CREATING MEANINGFUL TARGETS

“What are the 3-5 most important results I should expect from you this quarter? What goals would you like to create,” I asked Pete.
“First, I would like to implement a new warehouse in the inventory software,” he replied.
I followed up with, “Okay. What will be the benefits that we will experience as a result?”
Pete responded, “This should really help us to eliminate any more stock outages.”

The above dialogue represents a very common experience I had in talking with my direct reports. Here is another example:

Leader: “What goal would you most like to work on in the next 60-90 days?”
Associate: “I would like to work on improving my leadership skills.”

Result vs. Task
The first example highlights how people tend to set a “goal” that doesn’t represent the end-result they want. It is a task they want to execute to achieve the result. Pete’s desired result was to eliminate stock outages. But, when I asked him what his goal was he focused first on the task. The second example also lacks a clearly defined end-result.

As leaders we need to help them dig deeper and discover what they really want as the final outcome. The individual tasks associated should be developed later.

SMART vs. Vague
Both examples demonstrate the other major problem people encounter. Their ideas lack elements that will actually help them to accomplish the goal. So, what are the elements that would help a person get results? Read more...

Seize the day!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/
http://www.alliantleadership.com/
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Hire Someone Better Than I Am?

I recently came across some reading material where the author was encouraging people to be willing to hire people better than themselves. At first blush my response was, "Absolutely! That is the right way to do it." However, as I reflected on that idea it hit me that this is probably much harder to do in practice than in theory.

As human beings there is a natural tendency toward self-preservation. I have seen it in myself and I have seen it in others...most others.We want to grow, we want to advance, we want to be the cream that rises to the top. You may say, "The competition is already stiff enough out there and now somebody wants me to actually bring someone into the organization that is better than I am?" I think that is a tougher pill to swallow than most of us are willing to admit.

How can we look at this differently so we will be more willing for this? I would like to offer two perspectives that I feel are important.

First, I think the bottom line is to be the team player that we all say we are. I have yet to interview a person who didn't claim to be a team player. I don't think I have had a single exception to this. No has been honest or bold enough to say, "No, I am pretty selfish when it comes right down to it."

If the team really is what is most important, then what is the goal? The goal is for the team to "win" (however your organization defines that). If we want to win then one of the things we need is great players. If that means that I have an opportunity to significantly increase the team's ability to win I need to do it --- even if that person is going to end up being able to make a more significant contribution that I can. After all, if we all don't win, none of us wins. Go team!

Second, one of the most important skills a leader can demonstrate is the ability to hire well. HR folks will tell you that a bad hire can end up costing an organization 3-5x that person's salary (or more). Therefore, I am a firm believer that by hiring great people I actually raise my value to the organization significantly and put myself in a position for meaningful advancement.

So, are you willing? Do you have the courage and confidence to hire someone better than you? It could be a breakthrough opportunity for you as a leader.

Seize the day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Leadership Bottom Line

In early August I began a four-part series discussing what people are looking for from their leaders. Last week I posted a portion of my newsletter from a few weeks ago discussing the second pillar - showing compassion. Below is an excerpt from one of my earlier newsletters that began the series and discusses the first pillar.

Building Trust - the Bottom Line
PILLAR #1

In a recent interview I was asked what I considered to be the bottom line of effective leadership. Without hesitation I responded that it is building relationships of genuine trust with those who are following us. From experience I have learned that people from whom I’ve won trust will follow me even if they are not sure where we are going.

Last month I referred to Gallup’s book called, Strengths Based Leadership. In their extensive research to determine why people follow, they discovered four main reasons, the first of which is trust. In Kouzes and Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge, their research established that the trait most people are looking for in a leader that they would willingly follow is honesty – i.e. a person they can trust. My experience and the research agree. Trust is a solid foundation for significant influence.

How does a person establish and maintain trust? Although a hard question to answer definitively, here are some keys:
  1. Be trustworthy - This seems obvious, but this is where many people fall short. Do you keep your word? Are you a promise keeper or a promise breaker? Is integrity a word people would use to describe you? Read more...
Seize the day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Can Leaders Show Genuine Compassion?

The following is an excerpt from one of my recent newsletters. In this edition I discuss the second of the four most consistent things that people look for in their leaders - showing compassion.

Great Managers Care
Of all the soft skills this one is probably one of the hardest. As leaders, we are taught to keep the lines between business and personal very clear. Showing compassion can tend to push us across that line pretty quickly.

Research is showing, however, that the great managers really do care. And employees are responding very positively to that kind of attention. Here are a some of the benefits of showing genuine compassion as reported by Gallup:
  1. Employee loyalty - they are significantly more likely to stay with the organization

  2. Substantial productivity increases - getting more done with the same resources

  3. Greater employee engagement - they are much more involved in the mission of the organization at a meaningful mental and emotional level. This (along with great productivity) is important because Gallup has also been able to show a direct link between employee engagement and company profitability.
Here are a few, simple ways to show that type of compassion:
  • Make simple, casual inquiries about the person's home/family life - and really listen to the answer.

  • If you see that the person isn't feeling well, give them permission to go home and rest.

  • Send a hand-written note of support and encouragement to the family during tough times.

Sign up for my free monthly newsletter entitled, "Growing Leaders for Growing Organizations."

Seize the day!

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Gets Talked About Gets Done

A number of years ago I had a CEO who was a turnaround specialist say to me, "What gets talked about gets done." That is something I have remembered ever since.

In other words, what we as leaders talk about consistently is what people realize must be important. If the boss is that focused on it, everyone figures there is a reason for it and starts thinking and moving in that direction, sometimes even unconsciously.

Recently, I had this confirmed again in a book I am reading called, Master Leaders by George Barna. In it one of the leaders was quoted as saying that in his work with Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup Company, Doug had said that "the most important thing he does as a leader is to share the mission and vision of Campbell Soup Company wherever he goes."

One of my former employers/mentors used to say, "I know they've got the message when they're rolling their eyes at me because they've heard it so many times before. Until then it's not enough." He called it over-communicating. It worked.

Leaders need to communicate clear, consistent, compelling messages to their constituents. If they don't stay focused and keep the organization moving toward a clear target things will get fragmented very, very quickly.

So, what have you been talking about lately to your folks? What verbal drum have you been beating? Is it focused on the thing that is most important to your organization's success? If not, it's time to change your tune.

Seize the day!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October newsletter & more

Click here to see my October newsletter. In it I continue the series I began in August about what followers are looking for from their leaders. Last month's issue focused on building trust. This month's issue is about showing compassion.

Visit the Resources page at my website to see all of my archived newsletters, videos and recent webcast.

Seize the day!
www.joedenner.blogspot.com
www.alliantleadership.com
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some Great Quotes

Here are some great quotes I came across recently in George Barna's new book called Master Leaders. In all cases he is quoting another well-known leader he is interviewing around the question of "...what have been some of the great discoveries, the "aha" moments, that have shaped your thinking about what it means to be a leader?"

"I came to realize that really I can't change anybody." (Don Soderquist)

"I have found that successful leaders are much more aware of their subjective, emotional responses than you would expect." (John Townsend)

"I have discovered...how little I can do by myself and how much I can do through others." (Sam Chand)

"I have come to think of leadership as the mobilization of people toward a shared objective. And that mobilization requires the leader to first listen in order to learn, in order to lead." (Barry Black)

Some things for you to think about. What have been some of your greatest discoveries or "aha" moments that have shaped your thinking about leadership? Please comment and join the discussion.

Who are you learning from? Who do you spend time with and glean from so that you are growing as a leader? King Solomon, in the Proverbs writes, "He who walks with the wise becomes wise."

Seize the day!
www.joedenner.blogspot.com
www.alliantleadership.com
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reading With Purpose

I was working with my coach last week on putting together a reading plan. I love to read and learn new things and I am constantly struggling to find more time to read. So, I decided I needed a plan to become more intentional. Hey, that's sound like what I try to get my clients to do. Imagine that.

There were a couple of interesting takeaways for me from that coaching session that I thought I would pass along to you.

First, my coach asked me what my motivations were for reading. An obvious one for me is my love of learning. But, what else came out of that interchange was very interesting to me. Here are some of my other motivations, ones I hadn't thought of before:

1) The more I read, the better resource I will be for my clients.
2) If I am consistently reading I will be more informed of current events and have a more consistent flow of new ideas and insights. This will help me come to the dinner table with some interesting things to talk about. I have been looking for ways to get better at initiating meaningful conversation around the table.
3) My wife loves to read and reads about ten times faster than I do. She is also great at staying abreast of world events and things going on in the culture. We both really enjoying talking with one another. The more I read the better prepared I will be to have interesting things for us to talk about together. We never lack things to talk about, but the more well-read I am the better partner I will be in those interactions.
4) I love to do public speaking. One of my weaknesses in this area is story-telling and the use of analogies. I have a hard time coming up with them. The more I read, the more stories and analogies I will be exposed to, so I will have a larger inventory to draw from.

As I keep these all in view, I think I will be much more motivated to follow through on my plan because I am more aware of all the benefits I stand to gain.

The second insight that came from my coaching appointment was that I decided to break up my reading material into categories. I am a slow reader by nature. However, because I read slow and have a good memory, I tend to remember most of what I read. As we discussed this concept further I became aware that there are certain books/articles that I read just for fun, and am not interested in the full content. These are the kinds of things I could just skim and be satisfied. So, I have created two different categories:

1) Stuff I want to consume, learn & apply
2) Stuff I wasnt to skim and glean from

I still have more work to do, but this progress and insight has already been helpful.

What motivates you to read? How will those motivations affect your reading habits? Do you have different ways you could categorize your reading to help you use your time and energy more efficiently?

Click here to sign up for my free monthly newsletter. I would be honored to be added to your reading list. And remember, readers are leaders and leaders are readers.

Seize the day!

http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/
http://www.alliantleadership.com/

Monday, September 21, 2009

What a Week!

Last week was a whirlwind, but all in all, a good one. I was on the road to Ft. Wayne IN for a 2-day conference and then back to Lombard IL for another 2-day conference, both sponsored by the Christian & Missionary Alliance - Midwest District. At both conferences I had the privilege and opportunity to present another, even more-compressed version of my Conversational Leadership program. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago the folks at Ronald McDonald House Charities Int'l Conference really enjoyed the workshop. More importantly, a number of them commented that they were heading back to the office with tools they could begin using immediately.

This last week the pastors and ministry leaders who attended the conferences had some very similar comments. They were also able to identify, very clearly, how the principles I shared could impact their relationships at work and at home. I am very encouraged that people are walking away from these events with real-life tools they can use right now. That is incredibly important to me. I want all my listeners/trainees to walk away with immediate value and with resources that will bring them value over time.

This Wednesday I get another opportunity to compress the program even further. I will be doing a 30-min. webcast at 2pm CDT for an organization called Stratos Four, a digital media company based out of Cedar Rapids, IA. I hope you can join us. Click here to register for the event. I would love to have you there!

I think I have learned a valuable lesson over the last few weeks. If we are delivering something of real, innate value to our customers, then the amount of time we have does not limit our ability to bring value. It does limit the amount of value we can deliver in that space of time, but our ability to deliver value is not eliminated just because we don't have a multitude of hours.

This reminded me of a brief encounter I had with another client where, in a matter of 5 minutes, I had communicated the bottom line of this program. He walked away with three solid nuggets he could apply right away. That was tremendously encouraging.

So, what do you have to offer those in your sphere that is of real value? How could you slice and dice it, while retaining it's essence, that would allow you to deliver it in smaller, or larger chunks, without diluting the bottom-line for the customer? Stretch your thinking on this one and you will be surprised what you come up with.

Seize the day!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/
http://www.alliantleadership.com/
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When Do I Get To Do That Again?

Last week I shared with you the great news I received in the feedback that Ronald McDonald House Charities gave me after I spoke at their conference. While I certainly enjoyed getting such positive feedback, I have to say that as I reflected back on the whole experience I enjoyed something else much more - actually giving the presentation.



Not everything about the experience was wonderful though:

  • The initial preparation for the event was somewhat tedious. I had to take 16 hours of material and consolidate it down to 3 hrs. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't a lot of fun.
  • Putting together the PowerPoint presentation wasn't my favorite part either. I can get the content into the slides, but making them look good and giving them some creative flair is also not one of my strenghts.
  • The 30-minutes just prior to the workshop were a little stressful too. As people began entering the room and choosing their seats I introduced myself and tried to make some small talk. Some of you may be saying, "That would have been the best part." Not me. Meeting new people is tough for me. I tend to be shy and feel awkward in those early moments.

But...when the program started and I launched into the presentation it was like I entered a different realm. It felt great, looked great and sounded great...and I was loving every minute of it. It is what Michael Jordan used to call "the zone." It was that place where he felt like he couldn't miss (and usually didn't). In baseball hitters who are in "the zone" say that it's like the ball is coming at them in slow motion and the ball looks as if it were the size of a softball.

When it was all over there was this feeling of, "When do I get to do that again!?!?" I was full of energy and excitement. I was ready for the next class, though there wasn't one. Reality set in and I was back to "normal." I share this with you because this is how it looks and feels when we are operating in an area of strength - success and satisfaction (consistently). If you have been reading my posts for the last year you will know that is an area of passion for me - supporting other people in identifying and developing their natural talents into functional strenghts.

That experience I had is one I want others to experience for themselves again and again. So, I ask you, When was the last time you said, "When do I get to do that again?" Other questions to ask yourself are:
  • When is the last time I completely lost all track of time when doing something?
  • What are the 10-15 things in my life that I have accomplished that have given me the greatest amount of satisfaction?
  • What, when I am engaged in it, actual returns energy to me, instead of drains it from me?
Ask yourself some of these questions. It will help move you toward your areas of talent and strength. If you are serious about taking the next step you can take some assessments that will do a better job of nailing down the specific areas of your talents. Read my previous post called, "Anybody Got a Match?" to see more about a specific tool I recommend that is readily available and very inexpensive.

Seize the day!!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/
http://www.alliantleadership.com/
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sharing the Good News

I recently spoke at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Int'l Conference. It was a great privilege to be involved in an event of that magnitude. I was asked to do a compressed version of my program called, "Conversational Leadership." I normally deliver this material over 16 hours. At the RMHC conference I only had 3 hours. That was a challenge.

A few days ago I received the official feedback from the event coordinator...and I was thrilled. I had really enjoyed the event, and felt in my gut that it had gone well. However, I never expected to get such overwhelmingly positive feedback.

I thought I would share some of it with you so you could celebrate with me:

"We engaged Joe Denner from Alliant Leadership as a speaker for our 2009 International Conference. With over 800 attendees and more than 50 educational sessions, Joe’s workshop was consistently rated as one of the BEST. He is a great speaker and powerful influencer, capable of equipping organizational leaders with the tools they need."
Donell B. – Event Coordinator
Ronald McDonald House Charities Int’l

"Thanks Joe! Your presentation provided me with valuable information that I have already started applying in the workplace. I hope you’ll be back in 2011 with an advanced conversational leadership session. Thank you!"
Eric S.
RMHC Phoenix


Comments from other participants:
· Wow! I’m excited to get back and use these tools. Joe knew his topic and didn’t rely on slides, which is so important in keeping people focused and engaged.
· Fantastic – best session so far. Excellent presenter – great pace – addressed individual questions
· Too short – best session yet!
· One of the best sessions – can apply to all areas of life but he applied to RMHC
· Please have him come back!
· Outstanding – equipped me with the tools to have the one-on-one
· A great influencer – very easy to listen to – presentation moved at a nice pace
· Would be a great addition to Executive Training

I am very thankful to the Lord for enabling me to deliver this kind of value to my clients.

Take time to celebrate. So many of us don't. If you have received any positive feedback lately, please share it with me. I would love to celebrate with you!!

Seize the day!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thriving in Your Environment

What kind of environment do you thrive in? I think most of the time when individuals are looking for a job they are looking primarily at the role they will play, the responsibilities they will carry and the compensation package that comes with it.

In my previous posts I have written regularly about the importance of identifying, building and then leveraging your personal talents and strenghts for maximun success. Today, I would like to challenge you to consider, in addition to all of this, the environment in which you work.

In most cases the environment in which you work will have as much impact on your level of satisfaction as the duties and responsibilities. Certainly the people you work with and especially the person you directly report to are important. But, it goes beyond that.

Let me give you an example. In Gallup's StrengthsFinder language one of my talent themes is Learner. In very simplified terms this means that I absolutely love to learn. One clear ramification for me is I thrive in dynamic work environments because I am constantly being challenged to learn new things quickly. A stagnant or slow moving environment, or one in which I am doing the same thing day in and day out, would become stifling and boring for me.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to assess your current or future environment and its fit for you:
  • Do I like the people I work with?
  • Do I like my supervisor?
  • Do my personal core values align with the values of the organization?
  • What is the pace of work?
  • Are the policies & rules rigid or pretty flexible?

Have a great weekend.

Seize the day!

www.joedenner.blogspot.com

www.alliantleadership.com

www.twitter.com/joedenner

Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting Things Done

I am very passionate about supporting people in their personal and professional growth and in their efforts to get more of what they want and less of what they don't. My work is all about results, personally and practically. So, I was very intrigued when I received an email from a colleague recently that talked about results.

Research conducted by the American Society for Training and Development in 2004 to measure the likelihood of completing a goal and effecting change as a result, found the following:

Percent likelihood that change will happen after:

Hearing an idea……………………………………………………..................10%
Consciously deciding to adopt an idea………………........................25%
Deciding when you will do it.................................................…..40%
Planning how you will do it……………………………….......................50%
Committing to someone else that you’ll do it…………….................65%
Have an accountability appt w/ the person you committed to....95%

Amazing, but true. I see this all the time with my clients.

So, what is it that you really want to get done? To whom have you committed and when are you meeting with them to tell them how it went?

Seize the day!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/
http://www.alliantleadership.com/
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Soft Zone

Some CEO's and other top executives tend to shy away from conversations about what are called "soft skills." They like to talk about the tangibles of strategy, vision and execution. But, you cannot get away from the critical role that those soft skills play in the success of an organization.

In their book, The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz reference observations from Gallup by noting that:

No single factor more clearly predicts the productivity of an employee than his relationship with his direct supervisor. More specifically...the key drivers of productivity for employees include whether they feel cared for by a supervisor or someone at work; whether they [have] received recognition or praise during the past seven days; and whether someone at work regularly encourages their development. (Loehr and Schwartz, p. 75)

So, whether you like using the soft skills or not, you need to find a way to work them into your repertoire. If this is an area where you are weak, another wise move would be to have at least one person in your top circle of leaders who is really good at this stuff.

I will admit that early on in my career this was an area where I was severely lacking. Over time, and with consistent effort, I significantly improved in this area. I am still viewed as a fairly serious and probably somewhat aloof person in my leadership style. But, the effect of the growth that I experienced was stronger and stronger teams, especially marked by dedication, loyalty and productivity.

Where can you apply some soft skills today? Who on your team needs to know that you care? How can you invest in your relationship with them?

If you are interested in growing in this area I would encourage you to contact me about a program I offer called, "Conversational Leadership. Download my color brochure and Fact Sheet for more info. One of my former trainees referred to it as "the best real-time training" he'd ever experienced.

Seize the day!
www.joedenner.blogspot.com
www.alliantleadership.com
www.twitter.com/joedenner

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Cycle of Trust

In my newsletter that is going out in less than 24 hours I talk about why it is so important to build trust if you want to be a leader - i.e. a person of significant influence. In the newsletter I make reference to a concept I learned years ago called the Cycle of Trust.



The Cycle of Trust is a simple, but powerful concept. Basically, it states that we tend to trust people we perceive trust us and tend not to trust people we perceive do not trust us. Part of the concept rests on the fact that we tend to communicate our trust (or lack of it) in many non-verbal and subconscious ways that other people pick up on. So, even if we try to hide it, we give off "vibes" that we don't trust someone and they are able to pick up on that and it creates a sense of mistrust toward us...and the cycle goes on. On the surface it seems almost too simple. When I first learned about it during some management training I was skeptical, so I decided to experiment with it.

At the time there was another manager that I didn't trust at all... not at all. And, I was pretty sure they didn't trust me either. So, I began to intentionally work on trusting them. I made specific efforts to give them the benefit of the doubt in situations where the facts weren't clear and gave them outward support that I hadn't previously. Slowly, I noticed my attitude toward them changing for the better. I really began to believe in and trust them more readily. Surprisingly, I began to notice their attitude changing toward me. Long story short, our relationship was radically affected. We became friends and worked very well together for years.

Who can you apply the dynamics of the cycle of trust with? When will you start? If you do your part, you too will be amazed at what can happen.

Sign up for my monthly newsletter, and receive a FREE leadership resource.

Register for my newest, 1/2 day training class called, "Making Great Managers!" There is an early bird special available until this Friday.

Seize the day!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Leisure - Follow Up

It is hard to believe that July is over (in a few hours anyway). At the very beginning of the month I wrote about "capacity for leisure." In that post I mentioned that for some of us (like me), leisure doesn't come very often or easily. There's always more work to do...and I enjoy working, whether it is my job, or things around the house.

I am happy to report that my capacity for leisure increased dramatically during the month of July. Here is a brief recap of our adventures.

From the 6th to the 11th our family participated in and served at a children's bible camp. We played games, ate great food, sang fun songs, heard great Bible lessons, did fun crafts and built great friendships. Here are some pictures from camp.













On the 15th our family headed for Kansas City to spend an extended weekend with my parents, my sister and her family. We ate, we bowled, we swam (and got sun-burned), we went to the zoo, we played Wii and we stayed up late watching movies. It was a very relaxing, ejoyable weekend with family. Here are a couple of pictures from the weekend. These are all my children and my sister's children. I have 8 and she has 6 (plus 1 on the way).










During the week of the 20th-24th my 17 yr old daughter went to a dance camp in Kansas City, my 16 yr old son went to a strategic intelligence camp at Patrick Henry College in Viriginia and my 15 yr old son spent the week with his cousins in Kansas City. All three of them had a blast.

At this point we are attempting to get back to our normal rhythm. It has been a very hectic, but very fun month for our family. I hope you have had (or made) some opportunities to enjoy some leisure with those who are most important in your life. If not, there are a still a few weeks before school starts. Go for it!

Seize the day!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What is Leadership?

So, what is leadership anyway? Wow! That is a huge question. Ask ten different people and you will likely get ten different answers. Common words or ideas that you will hear would be: vision, strategy, communication, execution and courage. These are all good words and each are accurate for certain leaders. But, rarely will you find one person that reflects all of them at level of excellence. For me, and Webster's dictionary there is one word that sums up what leadership is all about. Watch the following video (0:33) to hear my answer.

video

So, what about all of those other words we mentioned earlier? They are all valid. But, they are expressions, or vehicles, of influence. They are not an end to themselves. Some exert influence through their ability to cast vision, others through their silver-tongued communication. But, at the end of the day it is all about getting our "followers" moving in a particular direction to achieve something meaningful (hopefully).

Who is in your sphere of influence? What skills or abilities do you use most effectively to influence them in the direction you want them to go? How are you honing those skills? Who are you partnering with that possesses other skills you don't so together you can be even more effective in your leadership?

Make sure to sign up for my free monthly newsletter. It's packed with value you can apply right away. Click here to sign up and receive a FREE leadership resource.

Register for "Conversational Leadership," a powerful program that will improve your ability to significantly influence others in any sphere. Just click here.

Seize the day!

http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

http://www.alliantleadership.com/

Friday, July 17, 2009

What Should You Do About Your Weaknesses

After a week off due to a family vacation, we are back to our look at leadership from my recent interview. This clip (0:46) covers what leaders should do about their weaknesses.

video

So, what are you spending time on that you shouldn't be? What energy are you wasting that you could be using to focus on your natural talents and strengths? How should you redirect that energy? When will you start?

Seize the day!

www.joedenner.blogspot.com

www.alliantleadership.com

Friday, July 3, 2009

What's Your "Capacity for Leisure?"

I usually don't post this many times in a week, but I came across a helpful insight in some of my reading earlier this morning. I am currently reading a book called, "The Healthy CEO." The subtitle says, "Taking the lead in your physical, relational and financial wellness." I have decided that my health (especially phyiscal) is one area that I have consistently neglected over the years and that it is about time it received some good attention.

As a side note, and as a compliment to my wife, one area where I scored fairly high, was quality of nutrition. I really appreciate the earnest effort she puts in to feeding our family well.

In my reading this morning there was a section on a person's "capacity for leisure." According to the auther this is simply "how often you take downtime and the quality of that downtime." He goes on to say,

"Every day involves some mental problem solving, physical work and personal engagement. To be efficient and effective in meeting these demands - and to derive pleasure from them - you need to replenish your reserves by intentionally and regularly creating an environment where these demands and stimuli are set aside temporarily."

In other words, to be the leader that my family, my business, my community needs, it is crucial that I (you too) regularly and intentionally have some good, quality downtime. For some of you that is not a problem. For those of us who are driven and for whom work always comes before fun it can be a big problem. It's a problem because, as I'm sure you have found, there's ALWAYS more work that could be done.

I am thankful that this is the 4th of July weekend. It will be a great excuse and opportunity for me to get away from some of the normal "demands and stimuli" and simply enjoy some downtime with the most important thing in my world - my family.

So, how about you? How can you get some good, qaulity downtime? How can you intentionally get those batteries recharged? How can you be consistent? Your family, your business and your community depend upon it.

Seize the day!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Building Your Team

What is important to building an effective team? Watch the following video clip (0:37) to hear the thoughts I shared with a local interviewer.


video


Join the dialogue. Add your comments.

Seize the day!

http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

http://www.alliantleadership.com/

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Leaders Are Readers...


I believe the old adage that, "leaders are readers and readers are leaders." Those who are informed and constantly advancing and challenging their knowledge of history, their current environment and the technical areas of competency that they need to master are going to have a better opportunity to influence those in their sphere than those who are uninformed.

I am currently reading the following books: The Healthy CEO, The Leadership Challenge, The Ascent of a Leader, Setting Sales Appointments and the Bible. I am being challenged on a daily basis in the areas of leadership, business development and the continuing growth of my character and spiritual maturity.

What good books are you reading? How are you stretching your mind? In what ways are you challenging the status quo of your own life? Turn off the TV, your iPod or Internet and get into a good book.

Seize the day!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Are You Staying on Track?

Most of us feel like we are living in the middle of a whirlwind. It seems that in every area of life we are being pulled in multiple directions and the demands are constant. In that kind of environment one of the major challenges we face as leaders is staying on track.

Watch the following video (0:38) to hear about one of the most consistent things that take us off the track.

video

Management guru Peter Drucker said, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."

Personally staying on track is very important to doing the right things. What pulls you off track? What are some intentional steps you can take to stay on track? Who could you share that with that could help keep you accountable to your commitments?

Seize the day!

http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

http://www.alliantleadership.com/

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Family Pride

I decided to give everyone a break from the interview videos to share with you what a great weekend the Denner family had.

Seven of my eight children were in a rectital on Saturday. Two of my daughters (ages 17 & 6) were in ballet numbers and all five of my boys were in a martial arts demo. Because the dance studio and the martial arts studio share the same building they put on a joint recital each year. Talk about efficiency for a family with eight kids!

It was great! I was so proud of my children as I watched the fruit of a year's worth of hard work and dedication. It was all that much more enjoyable because so many of our family members were able to make it. All the grandparents were there in addition to my sister and some of her children, all of whom came in from out of town.

On Sunday we celebrated my son Matthew's 8th grade graduation with a family cookout.

I am very thankful for the wonderful family God has blessed me with and for these memories that we will have for a long, long time.
How are you enjoying time with your family? Are you making it a priority? I know I need to continue to raise it up on my personal list. Don't wait until next year. Start today!

Make sure to sign up for my free monthly newsletter. It's packed with value you can apply right away. Click here to sign up and receive a FREE leadership resource.

Seize the day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bottom Line of Effective Leadership

video

Here is another clip from the interview that I did on strong leadership qualities. This clip (0:22) focuses on the bottom line of effective leadership.

Any comments? Join the discussion.

Seize the day!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

http://www.alliantleadership.com/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3 Skills to Master

video

Here is a brief clip (1:47) from an interview that I taped a couple of weeks ago for a local cable TV program. The interview focused on what makes strong leaders. This particular clip looks at three important skills for all budding leaders to master.

The show I was being interviewed for is called, "SchoolScape" and is sponsored by Lombard School District 44. My thanks to Jay Wojcik (interviewer) for the invitation to the show and for permission to post the interview.

If you are interested in the entire, 9-minute interview, click here.

Seize the day!

http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This Is Leadership - Video



What is leadership? It is many things, but at the end of the day it is all about significant influence within your sphere.

You have to watch this video. This is leadership in action. You need to hang in there until the 1min mark and then it unfolds. Enjoy.

Seize the day!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Anybody Got A Match?

I work with a lot of leaders in various arenas. They are all very different, and yet in one thing they are very much alike. They are alike in that when I began working with them they had a very limited understanding of their natural talents and strengths and how that impacts their leadership.

I am surprised by how little self-awareness these people have. My surprise is not an indictment of these individuals. It is an indictment of our education system, in general, and of our training of leaders, in specific. In his book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, author Tom Rath states,

"At its fundamentally flawed core, the aim of almost any adult learning program is to help us become who we are not...If you're not very empathetic, you get sent to a course designed to infuse empathy into your personality. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths.

How sad. How much time have people wasted, banging their heads against a wall trying to become something they are not? How many people out there are chasing dreams they are not equipped to achieve?

I am not saying that it doesn't take a lot of hard work and energy to become the best you can be. However, when you invest significant time and energy into your natural talents it is like striking a match against a rough surface - it bursts into flame, creating light and energy. Too many people are trying to mix oil and water and wondering why they are so frustrated and drained of all their energy and life and have little to show for it, or have no sense of genuine fulfillment from all that they have been able to achieve.

It's time to figure out who you really are and who were meant to be. What raw materials exist within you? How can you invest significant time and energy into turning those raw materials into a high quality finished product - i.e. strength?

I highly recommend the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment tool (that comes with the book mentioned above) as a way to start. You can get the book at any bookstore or online at Amazon. You read 31 pages and then spend 30-45 minutes taking the online assessment. As soon as you are done you get a great report that clearly lays out your natural talents and then gives you suggestions on how to invest time and energy into them. I use this tool with all of my coaching clients and have seen how beneficial it is when properly applied.

Anybody got a match? Seize the day!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Week in Review

I have had a fun and interesting week. Today's post is more about what I have been up to than any deep challenging thoughts about leadership.

I enjoyed a great day with my family on Monday as we celebrated Memorial Day together. One of our activities was attending the annual Wheaton Memorial Day parade. It was great to see all the American flags and salute the many veterans who passed by and to hear all the patriotic music that the various school bands played. My heart ached a bit though during that parade because I see the country that I love moving away from much of what our forefathers and fallen soldiers (including my grandfather) fought for. It reminded me of how much we need strong leaders who will fight to preserve the soul of our nation.

On Tuesday I had a great opportunity to deliver a 1/2 day workshop to the staff at Family Empowerment Centers of Chicago that was entitled, "Focusing On Your Strengths." If you have been reading this blog at all I am sure that title does not surprise you. It is a subject about which I am very passionate, and a drum that I will continue to beat.

On Wednesday afternoon I had the privilege of being interviewed for a cable TV program sponsored by School District 44 in Lombard called "SchoolScape." The interview centered on leadership and, more specifically, what makes a strong leader. I enjoyed this very much, though I was slightly nervous as this was my first TV interview. I hope you can check it out. It will air every Tuesday in June at 3PM on AT&T Cable Public Access Channel 19. It will also air five other times each week on the Village of Lombard's Cable Station Channel 6. If you see it please let me know what you think. I would love some interaction on the subject.

Finally, this Saturday I will have the additional privilege of speaking at an event called, "A Father's Legacy." This event will take place at Park Community Church in Chicago. I will have the opportunity to share just a slice of my journey as a father and my hope for future generations. If you are interested in attending, you can look up the details and register for the event at www.parkcommunitychurch.org. I would love to see you there.

And, don't forget every day is an opportunity to bring significant influence (i.e. leadership) into the lives of those around you.

Seize the day!
www.joedenner.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Meaningful Work

Is what you are living for worth dying for? If not it's time to re-evaluate what you are living for.

Do you see your job as a calling, or a way to pay the bills and earn enough money to take nice vacations? A few years ago I was challenged by a man who asked me, "What is it that you can not NOT do?" That question started me down a path that evenutally led me to leave the company I had been with for eleven years and start my own business.

Today I am a professional leadership coach and trainer and I absolutely love it. Now don't get me wrong. I am not ready to die for the coaching or training profession. But, the call to invest my life in the meaningful growth of others is something that I have risked everything for.

The funny thing is that I am not naturally a risk-taker. Just ask my wife and close friends. But, when I prayed about and grappled with the question of what I was put here on earth to do...what I could not not do...I was compelled to move in a new direction.

So, how about you? What is your life's work? Is it worth your life? And, as a leader, how are you doing at communicating to your followers the importance of the work they are doing?

We are all given 24 hours each day. Each day is an opportunity to invest or waste. Seize the day!

Click here to sign up for my next "Conversational Leadership" program.


http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Harmony Is A Beautiful Thing

I just finished spending time singing with my wife and eight children. We try to spend some time each Thursday afternoon in this melodious exercise. My wife is very talented with music and her genes have fortunately made it to most of our children. When we hit those 4-part chords well it is really quite beautiful. But, it isnt always that easy. It seems like there is always someone who is off.

Sound familiar? Does it remind you of your family, your team, your company?

Getting everyone to do their part at the right time in the right way takes great effort and coordination. When you do it, it is music to everyone's ears. When you don't, it can be a painful experience for everyone.

One of the challenges we face is finding the right part for each person - especially as their voices change through the teen years. It has made for some good fun (we're not laughing at them...we're laughing with them), but it makes creating pleasant harmonies a little difficult.

Sound familiar? Does it remind you of your family, your team, your company?

In weeks past I have referred to focusing on people's strengths as a key leadership activity. This is exactly why. Finding just the right part for each person to play is a crucial leadership function. Unless we invest the time and energy necessary to properly identify everyone's part, we will wind up with dissonance that makes it hard for our team to deliver what others want and enjoy.

What is one thing you can do today to help your followers identify their part? Maybe it's time to shake up your lineup like professional sports coaches are forced to do at times. It could be painful in the shortrun, but may lead to a beautiful harmony that is hard to beat.

Seize the day!
http://www.joedenner.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 8, 2009

Standing on the Rock


I have been reading a great book lately called, "Strengths Based Leadership" (Rath, Conchie; Gallup Press, 2008). I have mentioned it before, but I continue to get a lot out of it. In the book Gallup presents evidence to show that there are four main reasons why people follow.

As I looked back over my blog posts from recent months I found it interesting that I have actually covered three of the four already. So, I thought it only fitting that today I cover the fourth.

The four needs that followers consistently expressed are: Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope. The one I haven't discussed yet is Stability.

Stability is something we are all looking for as we have endured a difficult economic situation. A number of people have lost their jobs and scores of others live in fear of it happening to them. Others have had their financial portfolios devastated. One of the most paralyzing effects of this situation has been the uncertainty that has been created. No one seems to know how bad things will get or when this will all end.

In the book the authors state that employees who have a high amount of confidence in the financial future of their organization are nine times more likely to be engaged in their jobs than those with a low level of confidence. That makes an enormous difference. Engaged employees are more productive and produce more profit than those who are disengaged.

The authors also state that being transparent with your followers is the quickest way to establish a sense of stability. I could not agree more with this. I have seen leaders who lie and I have seen leaders who stop communicating when things are bad. Both create big problems. Those who lie typically get caught in their lies and their credibility is ruined. Those who stop communicating create a void of information. And, I learned long ago that in the absence of information the human mind usually assumes the negative. So, if we are not communicating people begin to imagine the worst. It's human nature.

My encouragement and challenge to you today is to look for ways to create a stable environment for your followers. It isn't going to be easy. You will have to look harder now than ever to find the answers. As you may have noticed from my previous posts I am not trying to give you all the answers. I am trying to give you important questions to ponder and explore and answer for yourself.

What is one thing you can do today to provide a sense of stability? How can you be transparent in your communication?

Take the challenge. Seize the day!