We Are What We Think

Outstanding leaders are successful for what they think. They have a positive mental attitude.

It’s hard to tell the successful person by casual observation. We all dress alike, eat in the same restaurants, shop in the same stores and work in the same offices.

The difference between the average and successful person is quite small.  Successful people don’t work three times as hard. They develop the slight edge that creates a major increase in performance.

They instill an attitude of abundance and positive expectation in themselves and their people.

They confidently expect that they can turn any situation to positive advantage. Their attitudes and behaviors lead to peak performance.

Your attitudes cause you to be rich or poor. When you believe you can you can.

Effective leaders understand that attitude is crucial and that self-esteem, the sum of our conditioning, affects attitude in many ways. Strong leaders raise their self-esteem by

  • Avoid comparison to others.

When we compare ourselves to others we set ourselves up for disappointment. The only relevant measure of personal improvement is to compare our capabilities from yesterday to our capabilities today

  • Resist putting yourself down.

Don’t let the person in the mirror become a block. Know your starting point and set a goal to change. Once you actively work towards a goal, you create success not at the end point but during the process.

  • Improve discipline in some part of your life.

Working to fulfill your goals gives you an incentive to do more and do it better each day. When you consistently take the right actions, you feel better about yourself and regularly reach a higher plateau.

Strong leaders understand we are what we think and the connection between attitude and success. They strive to strengthen success traits in themselves and their employees.


Build Self Esteem

As leaders we are in the spot light. Our effectiveness depends on how we view ourselves and how others perceive us.

Highly successful leaders have a strong self-image. They are aware of their strengths and limitations. They regularly work to develop their capabilities. We develop self-image by building our self-esteem. Here are four suggestions.

Avoid the comparison trap

When we compare ourselves to others we set ourselves up for disappointment. Someone is always more knowledgeable, a better speaker, or more popular – stronger in some manner. The only relevant comparison you have control over is what your capabilities were yesterday to what they are today.

Don’t let the person in the mirror become a block

Often we are too critical about ourselves. Develop a positive attitude about yourself. This begins with a strong self-awareness. It means having a deep understanding of your emotions, as well as your strengths and limitations and your values and motives. People with strong self-awareness are realistic and honest with themselves about themselves. They know where they are headed and why.

Improve your discipline in one part of your life

This doesn’t have to be big, just reading 10 pages a day will do. You feel better when you are consistently doing the right things that will bring you more personal success. Follow the 1% principle: if you can improve your effectiveness 1% a month, in about 5 years you will have doubled your effectiveness. A great positive attitude.

Celebrate the small victories

Recognize that each step you complete towards your goals is a positive accomplishment that takes you closer to your final objective.

How to become the person we want to be.

Take responsibility by building a structure to hold yourself accountable.  Determine what you would like to accomplish. Put the items in a spread sheet and score yourself daily.

As you make regular progress, your personal comparison is positive. Working to fulfill your goals gives you an incentive to do more and do it better each day. You feel better about yourself and regularly reach a higher plateau.




Bring Balance To Your Life

Do you have balance in your personal life? We don’t control much. Our personal balance is one area we have total control. Build balance in your life.

Leading requires a great deal of physical and emotional energy. You have to persuade and say “let’s go” to people who don’t want to go. You make tough calls directly affecting the lives of other people. You solve difficult problems. You serve as a mediator, encourager, and coach. For this we need balance so we can re-energize ourselves.

Balance is about making the right choices. We all make many choices every day starting first thing in the morning. Do you eat a healthy breakfast? Or do you start with a specialty Starbucks loaded with extras?

As the day goes along, our decisions get more complicated and difficult. Our choices don’t come with all the facts leading to simple conclusions.

Our balance begins with an accepting self-image. Realistically acknowledge who you are and where you stand. Have a healthy self-respect.

Know what you stand for. Be aware of your values. Be confident they are ethically sound and bring out the best in you. People respect the leader with strong values and will enthusiastically follow their lead.

When you have a positive self-image and strong values you don’t need to make compromises to please others. Your choices even when difficult will be understood and respected by your team.

Leaders face stress and strain every day. Positive mental attitude is a key trait of successful leaders. A positive attitude is a tough attitude making it possible to resist great strain without coming apart. A tough mental attitude keeps us from losing heart. We do not fall into doubt or give up in despair.

Attitude defines us. We have choices every day regarding the attitudes we embrace. Do you frequently complain or are you positive always looking for solutions? A positive attitude does not magically happen. It needs to be cultivated and strengthened.

How do you create and maintain your attitudes and balance? Marshall Goldsmith in his latest book, Triggers, discusses how our environment imposes continual stress on us. He suggests building a personal structure to recognize and then control how we react to circumstances outside our control. A good book to read.

Leaders with balance are realistic about their self-image, have strong values and a positive attitude. They manage their environment as they recognize and react appropriately to challenging situations that arise every day.


Change For a Different Future

Status quo will not meet your future expectations. For a different future you must change the way you conduct business. You must strategically transform your organization. This requires leadership skills you may not be expert in.

Strategic transformation moves organizations from the present to a desired future.

The world is vastly different than it was even a couple of decades ago. Email, social media, ever changing technology, security issues and political uncertainty make managing a company more stressful and difficult.

Every company has a present and a future. In between is process. Process defines performance. Performance drives results. For a different performance we must change process.

To successfully create a different future you must develop change as part of your culture. People make change happen but people resist change. So leadership becomes extremely important. People determine the level of performance.

Leadership Goal Build a results based culture of enthusiastic, motivated, confident employees committed to achieving your organization’s future vision.

The Adage of Leadership Your success depends on the success of your employees.

Good managers achieve results through other people. Great managers achieve results through other people and develop them in the process.

Leadership culture is the single most important factor in determining the level of organizational productivity, achievement – your results.

The Connection Between Strategic Transformation and Leadership.

  • Strategic transformation moves you from the present to your desired future.

  • Strategic transformation is carried out by your people.

  • The transformation of organizations is about the growth of  your people.

  • Organizational transformation is people transformation.

  • Your effective leadership is the catalyst for people development and strategic transformation

Implementing Strategic Transformation

You and your key people are likely one of your highest overhead costs. You are the drivers generating results. You budget for equipment, software and maintenance. Do you have a budget for improving the effectiveness of you and your key people?

Results of Effective Strategic Transformation

  • A growing market leader with sustainable revenue and profit.

  • Develop “Unfair Competitive Advantage.”

  • Build your personal and organizational value

We all want personal and organizational success. Strategic transformation is the most effective way for you to reach the future you desire.


Active Questions Encourage Engagement

Great leaders work hard to develop a proactive culture with effective employee engagement. The annual Gallop poll illustrates how difficult this is in practice; every year their employee disengagement figure is around 70%.

We all desire employees who enjoy work and want to do their best. Employees who wake up, look in the mirror, smile and say “I can’t wait to go to work today!”

There are two components of engagement; the company and the employee. The company has engagement drivers beginning with fair pay and benefits. Then providing –

  1. A good work environment and tools,

  2. Open communication,

  3. Interesting assignments,

  4. And effective leadership.

Employees have responsibility too for their behavior. What are employees doing to engage themselves? Fully engaged employees are committed and enthusiastic about their jobs. They are like an athlete being “in the zone”

How can we as leaders encourage employee engagement? One method is to use active questions.

Typically we use passive questions when asking how someone is proceeding on a task. For example, “How is your project progressing?” This is a passive question because the answer often relates to what is being done to them rather than what they are doing for themselves. “My partner can’t make up his mind, I can’t get the material I need from marketing, etc.”

Passive questions use the environment as an excuse. They tend to inhibit personal responsibility and accountability.

Active questions are an alternative; they challenge employees – what can they do to make a positive difference.  Use an active question, “Did you do your best today to …….. complete your project? Active questions encourage employees to take personal responsibility and accountability for their actions.

Effective leaders develop committed employees working together to meet company objectives. They develop a culture that encourages positive performance. They understand the more success we have meeting our goals the more committed we are and the more successful we become.

I have used the thoughts about active questions developed by Marshall Goldsmith in Triggers, his latest book. I strongly encourage all leaders to read and incorporate his wisdom.


Trust Is A Two Way Street

Trust is a two way street. You are trustworthy; your people trust you. Your people are trustworthy; you trust your people. The relationship is symbiotic. Both take positive leadership.

In this article let us focus on  how we develop trust in our people?

There are two foundations. First hire outstanding people; people that fit your culture and exhibit your values.

Second help employees reach their potential with a strong development program. People are the change agents in your organization. To change results you must help your people develop the expertise to carry them out.

Once you have the foundations your leadership is key to trusting your people. Good is the enemy of great. We accept mediocre when we aspire to meet industry average. Strong people expect to be highly successful. Mediocre is not in their DNA.

Build a culture where excellence is expected. One way to do this is to develop best thinking in your team.

Best thinking is a continuous thought process. When you share and build from a combined base, you end with knowledge greater than the sum of the parts. Communication is open and honest, positive and constructive, leading to a trust relationship.

We build trust by giving people responsibility and authority to succeed. Employees want to participate in setting direction and to know their work is valued. An effective leader understands sharing power is the most effective way to get their intellectual and emotional commitment.

Lastly develop your trust by building a culture where accountability is expected. Trust the team to do the work and hold themselves accountable. Avoid becoming the accountability taskmaster. In this environment people don’t fear personal attack and retribution.

Strong development programs are foundational. Build an “I’m always learning” culture. Make a personal commitment to improve 1% per month. Through compounding we double our effectiveness in about five years. Trust grows exponentially as you watch others continually grow and improve.

Mutual trust is a necessary component in building a high performance organization. You become an organization managed by an enthusiastic, motivated, confident team working together to reach the vision of the organization. The increased value you and your team build personally and organizationally is impressive and long lasting. Over time you develop strong “unfair” competitive advantage.


Outstanding Organizations Develop Personal Leadership

An effective leader succeeds because he knows what he wants and has a plan of how to get it. He also understands he needs leaders throughout the organization.

Pervasive leadership brings strong organizational success.  As employees reach new heights of achievement so does the organization.

An effective leader must first develop leadership in his personal life. We cannot lead others if we cannot effectively lead ourselves.

Anyone, whether CEO, manager, supervisor or employee, can develop personal leadership and make it a dynamic force in his or her life. if we desire to create a future that is different from our present we must change; our attitude, our actions and the way we think today.

We exhibit personal leadership when we take responsibility for leading ourselves to reach our personal vision. We impact our lives reaching new heights of achievement and leading a life that is positive and fulfilling.

Position is unrelated to responsibility. Everyone who believes in themselves can become a leader.

The key leadership attitudes are:

  • Be a great role model.  Forget the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Your actions are the most important messages that you send to others.

  • Maintain a great attitude about people.  Believe that your people are self directed and will work for personal growth and increased responsibility.

  • Be personally motivated. Think of yourself as a thoroughbred that runs to win. You act to meet your personal needs and desires.  Motivation is internal, not external.

  • Inspire people to build their internal motivation by challenging everyone to be the best.

  • Improve yourself just 1% a month, a tiny amount. Through compounding, you will double your effectiveness in about 5 years. This is a powerful motivator. It can double your effectiveness several times over during your career.

  • Finally, work for yourself.  Once you discover the truth that your employer is paying you to work for yourself, you will realize that work is a blessing, not a burden.

With strong personal leadership we develop a great success attitude and have lasting personal rewards.

Effective leadership throughout the organization leads to a results oriented culture where enthusiastic, motivated, confident employees are working together to reach the vision of the organization.


Develop People For Competitive Advantage

This year is almost over. Hopefully it was a great year for you. However you leave 2015 remember “It’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish!” Your future is in your control.

A recent study just came out on the effectiveness of different learning methods. The top 4 most effective methods are:

  • Coaching/mentoring

  • On-the-job exercises/activities

  • Peer-to-peer learning

  • Facilitated classroom learning

The bottom 4 methods with the least effectiveness are:

  • Community College programs

  • University programs

  • Online performance support

  • Online learning classes

My conclusion. If you look at “Training and Development” as an expense you are probably spending your budget on ineffective, low cost training.

Or if you consider “Training and Development” part of your competitive strength, you are investing in your people to get the highest return.

We want a positive return on investment. We feel good when we provide low cost “training” for our employees but there is no improvement in the performance of the company.

Shortcuts don’t work, band-aids don’t work, information only programs don’t work, seminars don’t work, TED talks don’t work, daily motivation blogs or videos don’t work – edutainment is not learning!

One of your largest expenses is your management team.  They produce most of your results and are a key asset. When they improve their capabilities there is a direct and positive correlation to bottom line improvement. Development is an investment. Your challenge is to generate a positive ROI.

As you prepare for 2016, consider how you will invest in your most valuable asset – your team. At the end of the year will you be able to demonstrate

  • A measurable return on your investment?

  • Your team performing at a noticeably higher level?

  • You focused on your team’s growth and success?

Know the personal advantage. The more success your people have the more success you have.

Positive people development has a great ROI and strong effect on your competitive advantage. Make a new years resolution to strengthen your people and your company.

Hat tip to Michael Diercks                                                                      http://www.icontact-archive.com/pRjR5eLGRk7OIJ0_0Fg7TQz7_klVe-Fa?w=3


Strong Culture Drives Success

What is leadership culture? Leadership culture is simply the total of the behaviors all the managers in the organization use to affect performance. It is the way we interact with employees and others on a regular basis.

Leadership culture comes from the collective style of those in formal leadership positions and are the random result of multiple individual styles.  Individual leader styles are based on life experiences that have impacted us over time. For example personality, how we were raised, our environment and the modeling of those who have managed us. These styles are subjective in nature not based on any formal research in managerial behavior.

Given this eclectic foundation our leadership culture is likely to be negative and inconsistent as it is to be consistent and outstanding. We can all recount stories of how some managers in our organization were more or less ineffective. Employees notice the difference and it affects their performance. Consequently we will not maximize productivity, achievement or results.

Research by Daniel Goleman, etal in Primal Leadership found that company culture defined as the way people feel about working at a company accounts for  20 to 30 percent of actual performance. Goleman further determines that approximately 50 to 70 percent of how employees perceive the company can be traced directly to leadership culture. Leaders create the conditions that determine our ability to work effectively.

Is there a personal leadership style that surpasses all others; one that is demonstratively superior? Yes there definitely is a superior leadership style. I call this style the Developer leader. He is focused both on results and people.

He collaborates and encourages employees to participate in determining direction. He develops a culture of mutual trust, respect and self-expression. He takes active interest in people development and team welfare.

Of all the leadership styles the Developer leader is by far the most effective in generating superior results, developing “unfair” competitive advantage and reaching his vision.


Effective Leadership

A common goal of all leaders is to build organizational value. The effective leader builds value by focusing on important but not urgent activities. These are his high payoff activities. They improve effectiveness. Less successful leaders focus on efficiency not effectiveness.

How would you define efficient? How would you define effective? Take a moment to consider your responses.

Efficiency commonly means getting a job done quickly, on budget and without loss.

Effectiveness means performing activities that help us make long term change for improvement.

Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.

Which do you believe is more important? Which will produce the greatest results, efficiency or effectiveness?

Of course we want both. However to build long term value, the correct answer is effectiveness. When you spend time doing things right, but not the right things, you will not get the results you expect!

Every day “crisis managers” are always working on tasks that are urgent or seen to be urgent. They work on problems not opportunity.

An effective leader focuses on important activities driving results that increase future success. Nothing dramatic happens if he doesn’t attend to them; he just won’t progress to the next level.  

Effective activities are usually not urgent. They do not act on us; we have to act on them. It’s the old 80/20 principle. The more time we spend on these activities the more successful we become.

If our High Payoff Activities are important how many of us know what ours are? How many of us have given them concentrated thought and written them out? How many of us set measurable goals to meet them?

From a team perspective, how many of us help our key people determine what their High Payoff Activities are? Have we assisted them to set goals to meet them

Leaders are successful when they build strong personal focus on high payoff activities. They are successful when they assist their team to establish their own high payoff activities. Together they develop opportunity.

The culmination if these efforts is positive: sustainable results, improved competitive advantage, in short increasing value.

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