Thursday, December 13, 2012

Leaders Need to Learn

That's right . . . learn.

Like I used to tell all of my young Sailor's who would get discouraged with setbacks and lacked ambition - success is like a video game.  You have to know which buttons to push and when.  If you get knocked down you have to figure out which way is the better way to get ahead.  In other words, keep learning as you're progressing.

This learning doesn't stop when you become a supervisor, director, or even a CEO.  Part of good leadership includes continued learning.  No one can ever get to ANY level and say, "I now know it all".  But how many leaders have you ever had that had just that mentality.  I've had "a few".

 Jim Rohn once said, "The book you don't read won't help."  Makes sense, doesn't it?

Make a habit of reading books - any subject you're interested in is out there and just waiting for you.  Read trade magazines or blogs.  Go to local seminars or complete online courses (there are a lot of free ones out there).  There are so many resources out there for you to learn from.  There's no reason why you shouldn't be taking advantage of them.

"No time", you say?  Wrong answer.  Make time.  A blog only takes a couple of minutes to read.  Start by finding a couple that are published by notable "experts" and go from there.

You're never going to know it all - realize it and believe it.  You need to keep learning.  Google "leadership blogs" and/or "leadership books" and get started now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Let Em Shine

Your staffs are an integral part of the success of your organization’s performance. This, you should know already. But how do they get to that point? How are they able to realize just how important they are?

You, as a leader, must communicate to your staff how you expect them to behave – clearly and concisely – and then let them do it. Does that mean becoming a dictator? Of course not. Think of your business like a play and your job is to be the director.

A director helps the actors rehearse their lines and actions so that they know just what to do on opening night so the play runs as smoothly as possible. A dictator would suppress the actors’ talent, where the director pulls them in and lets them shine.

To this, Walt Disney once said, “I think if there’s any part I’ve played . . . the vital part is coordinating these talents, and encouraging these talents, and carrying them down a certain line. It’s like pulling together a big orchestra. They’re all individually very talented. I have an organization of people who are really specialists. You can’t match them anywhere in the world for what they can do. But they all need to be pulled together, and that’s my job.”

I’ve had managers, as I’m sure you have, which held the reins so tightly that it sucked the energy out of me. Creativity suffers. Production suffers. Enjoyment in general is non-existent. People must have some leeway to be themselves, not a clone of a dictators’ need to be in control.

Do you let your staff shine? How can you pull them together? What type of success are you hindering by keeping the reins taut?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Everyone Picks Up Trash

Walt Disney once said about cast members (employees), “We train them to be aware that they’re there mainly to help the guest.”

Helping the guests (visitors) means not only personal deeds, but also keeping the parks clean. And when Walt said “them”, he meant everyone.

No one in your organization is exempt from guest support and service – this includes you. This reminds me of the story of the new Disney executive in California that on his first day walked past some trash on the ground while on his way from his car to his office. He got to his office, settled in, and a few minutes later another cast member walked in, placed the trash on his desk, and said, “Everyone picks up trash.”

If you want your employees to act a specific way, then you must also mirror that effort. And DON’T be surprised if someone calls you on it if you aren't doing it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the CEO, department head, or the brand new supervisor. You must walk-the-talk. Talking only works if you have the walk to back it up.

Your employees are watching you – they see a lot more than you think. Next time you’re about to walk past trash, make sure you stop to think if that’s what you want your employees doing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quality Doesn't Have To Come At A Price

When was the last time you thanked your employees . . . individually?  And I'm talking about just a simple thank you.

When was the last time you shook one of your employees hands?

When was the last time you sent one of your employees a simply - hand written - note of encouragement?

Wow, don't these things sound simple?  And notice one thing that each has in common - they don't cost a thing.  Nada!  AND, as a bonus to you . . . they take very little time.

If you take a look around you can find MANY simple, and free (or at least cheap), things that you can do for your employees to thank them, to encourage them, and to create team spirit.  And what's that going to do?  Among other things, it will help to create a quality driven atmosphere.

People typically react very positively to just simple acts of kindness and inclusion.  It gives them a sense of belonging and need.  And with those feeling's comes the desire to share them themselves.

So get ready to thank, shake, and write.  And while you're at it,  lets bring back the simple everyday "art" of conversation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Keep It Out

As we get closer and closer to election time, we hear more and more "stuff".  And that's exactly what it is.

Have you ever wondered how no one is ever wrong when it comes to politics?  Why is that?  Because we never know ALL of the facts on why someone did this or didn't do that or thought this or that . . . NEVER.

Politics boils down to one thing - opinion.  Anytime someone speaks of politics, it's mostly the way they've developed "information" in their own head.  No matter what, you can't win the argument.  So what purpose is there to purposely bringing non-winnable arguments into the office?

I say, go ahead and have your opinion.  Everyone's entitled to it.  But don't bring it in the form of a controversy   There are so many other things in the office that we can constructively put that effort towards.

Oh, by the way . . . the same goes about religion.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Slow It Down Pal

Many business leaders are just too darn busy these days. They tend to spend less time thinking about themselves and their employees, but rather use that time thinking about the bottom line, goals and strategies. You, maybe?
By spending so much time on the "work" aspect, they tend to get more physically and emotionally drained than leaders who take time to breath and build relationships. As a result, these "leaders" begin to avoid their relationships, become irritable, aggressive and close-minded.
In, Wired For Success (04/11/11), Ray Williams listed a number of key elements to becoming more mindful:
  • Pay attention: Focusing 100% of your attention on whatever you are doing
  • Be non-judging: take the role of an impartial observer to whatever your current experience is, and don't judge whether things are good or bad.
  • Have patience: cultivate the understanding that things must develop in their own time.
  • Be in the present moment: Be aware of how things are right now in the present moment, not as they were in the past, or how they might be in the future.
  • Non-reactivity: Our brains are built to have you react automatically, without thinking. Mindfulness encourages you to respond to your experience rather than react to your thoughts. Being mindful is a deliberate and intentional choice.
  • Have beginner's mind: have the willingness to observe the world as if it was your first time doing so. This creates an openness that is essential to being mindful.
  • Trust: have trust in yourself, your intuition, and your abilities.
If you're not doing at least some of these things . . . now may be a good time to take a look them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Help Them Grow

It only happens every few years. I’m talking about leadership books that come out that I like so much that I read it with a highlighter. I use them in staff development and lend them out to others who want to improve themselves and/or their staff.

A few years back it was Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell. Then came From Bud to Boss by Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris. Now – I've had the great privilege of reading a pre-launch copy of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni.

Help Them Grow is the type of book that makes you think, “Hmm, why haven’t I been doing that?” It’s a straightforward roadmap on how to help your staff develop without you having to take control of the reins. Let your employees grab hold of those reins and become responsible for their own growth. Wow . . . what a concept, right? Can you see your time being freed up?

Kaye and Giulioni say that “your role is more about prompting, guiding, reflecting, exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm, and driving action”. This book shows you ways to incorporate these career conversations in your everyday work life.

Notice that last sentence that says “everyday”. Leaders don’t have time to hold extended annual appraisals that package up everything from the entire previous year – and shouldn’t – heck, they don’t remember about what you’re talking about half the time anyway! You’re already having everyday conversations with your employees (hopefully), so just change the tone a bit. You don’t need a bunch of checklists and forms. Conversations and asking questions are the keys to development.

This book gives you actionable steps to “focusing on what the employee needs to experience, know, learn, and be able to do”. Too often, leaders think they have to have all the answers (and they avoid the topic if they don’t), when what they actually need most are the questions, permitting the employee to be a first hand participant in their own successful development.

There’s so much more to this embracing book than I have time for here, so my suggestion to you is to go to Amazon on September 18 (release date) to order yourself a copy or two – others are going to want their own.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recognition Linked to Performance

Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, completed a study a few years back on how employee recognition impacts performance and in turn assists managers in creating a productive team.

In his study, he found of managers that:
90% said recognizing employees helps them to motivate them.
84% said recognizing employees provides them with practical feedback.
80% said recognizing employees for good work makes it easier to get the work done.
78% said recognizing employees helps them to be more productive.

73% of managers said that they received the results they expected when they used employee recognition.
99% said that if they didn't get immediate results, they would eventually obtain the desired results.

Take another look at those statements.  Who's point-of-view are we looking at?  Not the employees - the managers'.  Yes, the employees desire and need recognition for their own good, but look at the production side and see that it's just plain good for you and your organization.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Account on This!

One of the biggest areas that I've seen lacking in leadership is keeping staff accountable.

One of the best ways that you can help people excell is to establish an accountability-based culture focused on producing results.  There are a number of basic things that you can do help this culture along, tremendously and quickly:
  • Establish goals and objectives . . . that align with the organization.
  • Assign each team members specific goals and objectives.
  • Find out from your team what they need in order to succeed in those goals and objectives.
  • Be a part of the team yourself.
and the biggie:
Many leaders actually do focus on those first four bullets . . . then they lose it all at the last one.  If you don't follow up, you're just going through the motions.  That's just a waste of everone's time, including the organization's.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teach Customer Service First

First off, this isn't a young folks bashing post.  But it is a lack of thought training bash.

We've all been there.  We walk into a store with questions or to the check-out and see young workers.  Do I stop that clerk or go to that register - or do I go to the more "seasoned" worker?

Young workers aren't usually real skilled at customer service.  They don't have the experience or the thought processes of the more seasoned worker.  However, they do the same job, see the same customers, deal with the same situations.  It is leaderships responsibility to ensure that these young folks have the proper training PRIOR to stepping foot on the floor by themselves.

I visited a major pet store chain this weekend.  When I got to the register my $3.99 item rang up as $6.99.  The cashier's response?  "Oh, it was probably in the wrong place."  No, price check, or "I'll take a look".  It was 'probably' in the wrong place.

Good customer service is not about guessing and leaving it at that.  It's about knowledge and finding out answers.  These are two easy things that CAN be taught to new staff.  If you don't know about a product ask someone else.  If you don't know the answer, find out.

"I don't know, but I can find out" will save MANY customers for your organization.  Try it out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Find Your Platform

Last week I reviewed a new book by my friend Michael Hyatt, one of the top bloggers in the world and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers. I don't usually publish multiple posts about products, but this is a book that I believe has great potential to really change some lives.

Michael has just released - today - an amazing new book for anyone with something to say or sell. It’s called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

John C. Maxwell said about Michael - "I have watched Michael Hyatt build his own platform from the ground up to become one of the largest in the world. And he has done so with the strategies and tips he outlines in this very practical book. Any author, speaker, or business owner who wants a blueprint for getting the attention and visibility they want, needs to read this book."

To be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets:
  • a compelling product and
  • a meaningful platform.
It's never been easier, less expensive, or more possible than right now to build your platform and Michael Hyatt will show you how.

Platform offers a step-by-step guide with proven strategies, practical tips and easy-to-replicate formulas. Whether you're an author, pastor, public speaker, entrepreneur, musician, or small business owner… developing your platform is critical for your success.

CHECK OUT THIS BONUS OFFER: To celebrate the launch of the book - this week ONLY, Michael is giving away $375.98 worth of FREE bonus content for those who purchase the book between May 21 and May 25. Complete details are available at

Bonuses include:
  • Platform Video Jumpstart Program (six sessions),
  • How to Write a Winning Book Proposal (two e-books and two audio sessions),
  • Why NOW is the Best Time Ever to Be an Author (hour-long video),
  • Digital Versions of Platform (audio and eBook),
  • and more!
Seriously - get this book today - take advantage of Michael’s bonus content and start building or expanding YOUR platform - now!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Get Noticed In A Noisy World

Recently, I had the honor of being chosen as one of 100 people (out of 800 candidates) to be a part of the Launch Team for Michael Hyatt’s new book, Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World.

Michael Hyatt is Chairman of Thompson Publishing, the 7th largest publisher in the U.S. His blog, called Intentional Leadership, is ranked #1 in the leadership category.

Anyway, back to the book. The premise of this book is that just having a good idea for writing a book, getting a record contract, gaining funding for a startup business, or anything creative for that matter, is not enough. Just having a good – even great – idea doesn’t get you in the door anymore. What a life changer this book could be to a lot of people. Now I’m not just saying that because I’m on the Launch Team. The Launch Team is formed, in part, to get good honest feedback.

These days you need to have a “platform”. Michael gives you a step-by-step guide on how to build that platform. He shows you how to use an online presence to build your brand and gain connections. If you want to be heard, people have to be listening. “People like you and me can get noticed and win big in an increasingly noisy world.”

Many books on similar subjects give you a lot of fluffy page fillers. Platform gives you the to the point information that you need. According to Michael, there are three things that building your platform provides:
  • visibility,
  • amplification, and
  • connection.
In order to be visible, you have to have a stage – Blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. In order to be amplified, you need to be able to be “heard” above the crowd, especially through social media. In order to be connected, you have to be able to engage your fans, customers, and supporters.

I could go on and on about all the great – and usable - information that’s in this book (personal responsibility, elevator pitches, online media kits, building your home base, generating online traffic, brand monitoring, etc.), but you’ll get more out of it by reading it yourself.

Just remember, whatever your “product” is, it has to be good – it has to WOW. One of Michael’s favorite quotes, by David Ogilvy, is, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”

Platform will be released on May 22nd. But don’t order the book prior to that! That's an odd thing to say, isn't it? But if you wait to order the book the week of May 21st he'll give you $375.98 worth of extra FREE products. You can sign-up to be notified here:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is That You?

Is that you?  What does that mean?  It means that you're recognizing someone.  It's a pretty simple example of the word "recognize", isn't it?  But that's the point.  Recognizing people is simple.

Most managers spend more time pointing out mistakes than achievements - even though their staff do more things right than wrong.  A feedback ratio of one positive to three negatives doesn't really do too much for morale.  But I bet, if you turn it around, that a ratio of three positives to one negative will really do wonders for the motivation of your staff.

Sit down and really think about how much you recognize people.  Compare work to your personal life.  For some of you I bet you recognize people in your personal life more - spouse, kids, neighbors, buddies, etc.

Put yourself in your staff's position.  Personalize it.  Say your neighbor's been ill, so you mow his yard.  Next week you mow it again.  Come Monday morning you see him walk to his car, give you a wave, and he drives off to work.  How does that make you feel?  Not too awful good does it?

Getting NO feedback is just as bad as getting negative feedback.

Use the acronym that Lee Cockerell, former VP of Operations at Walt Disney World, uses - ARE:
  • Appreciation
  • Recognition
  • Encouragement
Lee describes ARE as a "cost-free, fully sustainable fuel, one that builds self-confidence and self-esteem, boosts individual and team performance, and keeps an organization running cleanly and smoothly".

Appreciation - Recognition - Encouragement . . . a little goes a long way.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Remarkable" Workshop

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Kevin Eikenberry Groups' Bud to Boss Workshop.  They certainly lived up to their tagline of "You Are Remarkable."

While other leadership training workshops tend to be canned and uneventful, the Bud to Boss facilitator, Valerie Plis, tailored the two days to the attendees' personality's and needs.

Some would look at the agenda and think there's nothing new that's going to happen here.  But I was very pleasantly surprised.  I didn't believe anyone could come up with so many new and creative ways of leading.

One of my favorite elements of the workshop (and of most attending) was the ease of understanding that Bud to Boss makes of the DiSC model.  Valerie used the entire group of attendees to illustrate the quadrants so we could experience it first hand.

Another of my favorites, that we used continuously throughout the two days, was:

  • acknowledge the (issue),
  • ask questions,
  • set expectations.

By doing these three things, you can effectively deal with most any problem.

And lastly, the Bud to Boss ABC's of Coaching (accountability, belief, conversation) opened all of our eyes and gave us a good stepping off point to becoming remarkable leaders.

Would I recommend this workshop for new leaders?  No.  I'd recommend this workshop for leaders at all levels.  So take a look at the workshop link above and find a workshop near you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Secret's Out!

Walt Disney once said, "People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is, you do it by working."

"Working." Wow, what a concept.

Most people have heard of the old Bible saying, “You reap what you sow?” at some point in their life. Larry Winget, 'the pitbull of personal development', explains the problem best saying, "Most people aren’t reaping much these days because they haven’t done any sowing".

I Googled "books on the secret of success". It came up with 47,500,00 entries! That doesn't seem to me like there's much of a secret.

Here's the real "secret" of success . . . work harder, faster, smarter, and better. That will be $29.95 please.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don't Fight It

Don't fight CHANGE. It happens. It must happen in order to grow.

You can try to ignore change, but it doesn't stop it. You can try to stop change, but you're just fooling yourself. You can try to insulate yourself from the effects of change, but that's just speeding up career death. You can't fight change and expect to be successful.

Watch out for these 7 warning signs of change resistance. You're:

  • still using the old rules to play the new game.

  • ducking new assignments.

  • trying to slow things down.

  • working hard to control the uncontrollable.

  • playing the role of victim.

  • hoping someone else can make things better for you.

  • absolutely paralyzed, like a deer in the headlights.
A good leader makes responsiveness to change your PERSONAL mission. Be a Change Leader!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Buck Starts Here

I'm presenting a corporate program on change tomorrow and in my research and development I found a very interesting "chain of excellence". It comes from, my fave, Disney.

Disney's Chain of Excellence goes like this:
Leadership Excellence -- Cast Excellence -- Guest Satisfaction -- Loyalty & Financial Results.
Every level is dependent on another. You can't have Cast Excellence unless you have Leadership Excellence. You can't have Guest Satisfaction unless you have Cast Excellence. You can't have Loyalty & Financial Results unless you have Guest Satisfaction.

The thing that really stands out after looking at this model is that you can't have any of the three levels unless you have the first - Leadership Excellence. This isn't where the buck stops, it's where it starts!

Leadership development and succession planning should be a top priority for all organizations.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Want More Than Good Enough

Good enough isn't good enough. Sound strange? . . . Must be early in the morning. Seriously though, think about it. If you're just performing "good enough", you're not excelling. You're just doing what you need to do to get by.

I won't let myself settle for "good enough". I want to do more - better - than expected. I want to stand out. I don't want to have to "blow my own horn". What I do should be noticeable. And that's the type of people I want to work with or the type of businesses I want to deal with.

I recently got a new pair of glasses from a large club store (starts with S and ends with s). I had to have lenses remade multiple times because my left eye is sensitive to having as exact a prescription as possible. But each time the left lens was off BUT was "within the acceptable parameters" . . . at the BOTTOM of the acceptable parameters. This was "good enough" for the lab making the lenses and the attitude that was taken by the store employee's. It was also an acceptable practice to them.

I finally returned the glasses for a refund and went elsewhere . . . along with letting friends know what I went through. Can you say, "lost customers"?

When you begin feeling too comfortable in what you're doing - personally or organizationally - it should sound an alarm telling you that you'd better take a look.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Don't Have Any Competition

You’d better think twice about that title statement. Any person or organization that your customers do business with is a competitor. Notice that word I bolded . . . ANY.

Before a customer calls your business, could they have just talked to a Disney reservations representative about their upcoming Walt Disney World vacation? Could they have talked to FedEx about an emergency pickup? Maybe they ordered some clothing from Zappos.

All of the above mentioned companies are tops in the field of customer service - and for good reason. Just the mere fact that your customer talked to them first can make your “great” service experience feel more typical or even down right inferior. People will unconsciously compare every business they deal with.

Don’t you want to be one of the Disney's, FedEx's, or Zappos’?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Leaders Look for Results Instead of Salutes

"Look for results, not salutes.” This is a great quote that comes from a chapter in Captain D. Michael Abrashoff’s book, It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy. In it he describes how he broke down the time honored traditions of officer/enlisted separations. Not completely, of course, but enough to make a harmonious difference.

It takes just simple things sometimes to make a difference, and to show that you, as a manager/supervisor, are part of the team and not just the overseer. For instance, Captain Abrashoff talks about taking his place at the end of the food line at steel beach picnics (cookouts on the flight deck). This just normally is not done – officers go to the front. It wasn’t long, of course, before other officers took his cue and were doing the same thing. Going to the end of the line was one of many ways of showing his crew that he genuinely cared for them and he was working WITH them.

You can easily use these same types of techniques in civilian business. Just like the military, we also have ranks and privileges – executive parking spaces, cafeterias, even restroom’s. But take a look at the difference in where you spend most of your time. In your office – which is segregated far from the lower ranks?

I often talk about Tom Peters' concept of MBWA (management by wandering around). Step out of your hideout and become part of the team. Make it habit to eat in the break room once a week. Give staff the opportunity to talk with you freely, whether they’re happy about something or concerned. This is where new ideas and improvement comes from.

From 12/19/08

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I have but one question . . . "How hard is to say hello?"

"Hellllooooo" is what I'd like to just say sometimes as I walk by some people - managers - in the morning.

When you become a manager, director, or what have you, it's not a license to become arrogant. I greet everyone I know - and then some - the first time I encounter them each day - and even throughout the day.

Your greeting, or lack of, tells a lot about you. It shows staff how approachable, or not, you are. It shows staff how interested, or not, you are in them. It shows staff how appreciative, or not, you are of them.

You may not be in the best mood and not really want to converse with people, but if someone extends a greeting to you, you ARE expected to return the greeting. Even just a simple "hello" or "hi" will do. And don't forget eye contact.

Just as we tell staff who work with customers to leave their problems at the door before punching in, you as a leader, need to do the same thing when dealing with staff and co-workers. Remember: all eyes are on you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Feed Your Employee's

By FEED, I don’t mean buy them lunch everyday (although once in awhile would be great). I mean feed them knowledge and experience.

With all the talk about Millennial’s, Gen-Xer’s, Y’s and Z’s, we’re seeing more and more employee’s that don’t want to take over the reins of the company. They just aren’t quite as ambitious these days as say the Baby Boomer’s have been.

Employees don’t have their sights on the corner office as much as they used to. They’re perfectly happy trying to balance work and life – with an emphasis on life. There’s too much challenge and demand on CEO’s and VP’s these days so the ambition to get that high is lacking.

Now that’s not to say that today’s workforce is lazy - to the contrary. They work very hard. Actually, a recent study found that the notion of Gen-Xer’s being lazy was way off and that it’s really just the opposite.

Now is the time to start grooming – learning and training - or you may just find your succession plan slipping away.