John Maxwell

Travel on the road to a clear vision

clarify your visionA clear vision is an interesting concept for leaders. The word vision makes you think that the end-state can be seen in the physical world. In reality the most powerful vision is one which describes not what is, but what can be. This is what Warren Bennis meant when he said, “Create a compelling vision, one that takes people to a new place.”

There are four steps that all successful leaders follow as they travel on the road to a clear vision:

See the vision. Leaders must visualize the end-state clearly in their mind. They can see the future and the plan to get there.

“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there.” – John P. Kotter

Share the vision. A vision in the mind of the leader is only a dream until it is shared with their team. Talk it up – let everyone know your plans for success.

“Good leaders must communicate vision clearly, creatively, and continually.” – John C. Maxwell

Set the vision in motion.  Seeing the vision clearly, and hearing about the vision continually are important first steps, but you won’t get any closer to success until you begin moving forward. Leaders take the first step.

“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

Spread the vision.  The first three steps on the road to a clear vision are all about the leader – it is a vertical path. For vision to work it has to spread out horizontally across the team members. This only happens when the vision becomes personal – people who see change want to be changed. Encourage celebrations of individual success that leads to the vision.

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs

How to seek and find opportunity

opportunity trainThe only door knocking you will hear from opportunity is the rattling of the train of success as it passes by. Opportunity doesn’t wait till you are ready, it’s here and gone. Only those that are in a position to grab hold of it get to ride it to success.

“One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Seek out opportunity, don’t wait for it to come and get you – it won’t.

Here are the 4 steps to successfully seek and find opportunity:

1 – Trains have a sign that tells you where they are heading so you know which one to board – the train that takes you to your destination. This means that sometimes you are letting other trains pass you by as you wait for the right one. There are many opportunities in life – not all are equal. You need a dream of success in your mind at all times to recognize the right opportunity when it comes. Only grab hold of the opportunities that bring you closer to your dream.

“Learn to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.” ­­– John Maxwell

2 – Trains leave from the train station. If you want to catch a train, you get to the station – sounds simple.   In the same way, opportunity comes where it wants to, not where you wish it would. Now that you have a dream of success clearly pictured in your mind, you should get to the place where your dream happens. If you want to be a professional musician – join a local band. If you want to be a writer – start writing and connect with other writers. If you want to be pastor – volunteer at your church. If you want to be a doctor – study hard and get good grades so you might qualify for medical school. Place yourself where the opportunity that brings you closer to your dream is likely to be.

“Sometimes opportunities float right past your nose. Work hard, apply yourself, and be ready. When an opportunity comes you can grab it.” – Julie Andrews

3 – Trains leave at fixed times, from specific platforms and require the right ticket to board. When the right train comes you need to be prepared for all three of these. Do the work that needs to be done to prepare for when the opportunity comes that will lead you to your dream.

“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” – Tony Robbins

I have heard it said that successful people seem to be in the right place at the right time. I find that lots of other people were in the same place and weren’t as successful – why? They didn’t recognize the opportunity because they didn’t have a picture of their dream or a plan to take action when it came.

 

INVESTING IN PEOPLE

The Secret allocate our resourcesToday’s post is from our guest author, Mark Miller.

Ten years ago Mark and Ken Blanchard wrote a classic business fable titled The Secret. Today they are releasing a new 10th anniversary edition which includes a leadership self-assessment so readers can measure to what extent they lead by serving and where they can improve. The authors also have added answers to the most frequently asked questions about how to apply the SERVE model in the real world.

As practical as it is uplifting, The Secret shares Blanchard’s and Miller’s wisdom about leadership in a form that anyone can easily understand and implement.  This book will benefit not only those who read it but also the people who look to them for guidance and the organizations they serve.

The forward is written by my friend and mentor John C. Maxwell who said, “My challenge to you is simple: learn The Secret—then apply The Secret. If you do, your leadership and your life will be transformed forever. “

INVESTING IN PEOPLE

In challenging economic times, one of the easiest items to cut from the budget is training and development. The rationale is understandable. Rarely will any organization see immediate negative consequences when training is discontinued. It looks like found money in the budgeting process.

Unfortunately, this logic is flawed. Learning and development is like time-released medication: the benefits are derived over time.

Imagine someone who believes they don’t need to save for retirement. This month, even this year, they see no ill effects from their decision. However, if you play the movie forward, many of these same people live their final years in poverty. The decision not to save was painless in the moment – the pain arrives later.

Today I want to respond to a question I received just last week from a business leader: “Why should we invest in learning and development for our staff?” There are many reasons. Here are some of mine…

  • Improve performance – Learning and development may not have immediate impact on the Profit and Loss statement, but it better have long-term impact. We help people grow so we can help the business grow.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of prepared leadership for the future – We’re trying to build a leadership pipeline. This will not happen without thoughtful design and construction. Pipelines don’t build themselves.
  • Increase individual and organizational capacity – Growth should generate capacity. Every organization I know of is asking their people to do more with less. Without new thinking and methods, this mandate is a prescription for disaster.
  • Establish common language and models – When people align their thinking, it’s much easier to align their actions. My favorite example of this is around the topic of leadership. Does your organization have a common definition of leadership? If not, you’ll always struggle to create a leadership culture.
  • Build cultural cohesiveness – Shared learning experiences create common bonds. These experiences also help us grow a small company. Doing life together, including learning, fosters a unified culture.
  • Help staff increase their level of contribution – If you’ve created a healthy organization, people want to contribute at a higher level. People want to add more value. Learning and development facilitates this.
  • Introduce new best practices – Left to their own, organizations can easily become insulated from the outside world. They settle into patterns of behavior that often do not represent global best practices. Investments in learning and development can mitigate this tendency.
  • Combat complacency and stagnation – Living things grow. Growth creates energy and movement. Investments in learning and development are like water on a plant. Without it, growth is stunted and death is not far behind.
  • Maintain people as a competitive advantage – Are your people a competitive advantage for your organization? If so, an on-going investment will be required to maintain that edge. If they’re not, you’ll never enjoy that advantage without investing in them.
  • For me, there’s one more reason to invest in learning and development. I don’t see our people as an asset… I see them as a gift. I want to steward that gift well.
  • Mark Miller believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

 

 

Employee rewards and motivation

rewards show me the moneySHOW ME THE MONEY!

Cuba Gooding Jr. says that line many times in the movie Jerry McGuire.  As a professional football player, Gooding’s character knows what other players earn and he wants to be similarly paid for his contribution to his team.  As you watch the movie it becomes evident that the line, “Show me the money,” wasn’t really just about the money; it was about recognition and respect for the character’s abilities.

In a recent survey by Gallup, people were asked if they would continue to work if they won a $10 million dollar lottery. You may be surprised to find that even among those actively disengaged, only 40% would stop working, and 20% would stay in their current job.  At the other end if the spectrum in terms of job satisfaction is those who are engaged.  For this group only 25% would stop working and 63% would stay in their current job.

These hypothetical lottery winners now have at least a comfortable $5 Million after taxes, yet the majority of them will still keep working. Why?  Because job satisfaction is not just about being shown the money.  Certainly employees want and deserve to be fairly compensated for their work.  However like Maslow’s hierarchy, once the need for food, shelter, personal and financial security are met, people seek relationships, respect, and opportunities to do their best.

The great Zig Ziglar put it like this, “Employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.”

Interesting work.

For work to be interesting it must provide an opportunity for employees to use their strengths, grow personally and make a difference.  Without these three opportunities work is a drudgery, boring and meaningless. Here’s why:

Using strengths.  According to Marcus Buckingham, former Global Practice Leader with Gallup, and coauthor of Gallup’s best-selling management books First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths,A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.” Working in your area of strength is fun because you are good at it.  No one wants to be in a job where you struggle all day.

Growing personally.  People are genuinely pleased when the company they work for is successful; this brings job security and pride in their association with the company.   Sustained good feelings though, come from also having personal success which only comes through personal growth. Leadership expert John Maxwell said, “Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.”

Making a difference.  True fulfillment comes from helping others achieve success.  One of my favorite phrases is, “We don’t use people to complete projects; we use projects to complete people.”  Successful projects really aren’t that hard to accomplish.   Focusing on developing successful people isn’t easy, but the rewards are worth the effort. As Tom Brokaw said, “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”

Recognition for doing a good job

Everyone wants and needs to hear “Good Job.”  It is one of the easiest rewards to give, and one of the best to receive.  It’s good to hear in private, and great to hear in public.  Sometimes we put too much emphasis on “Producing a Moment,” instead of just telling your employees that you appreciate what they did.  Certainly there are recognition ceremonies for special events and those are worthwhile, but don’t forget the quick email, phone call, or comment in a meeting as well.  As a leader you should also realize that this is not only good for the employee but great for the team and the company. 

Tom Rath, Bestselling Author & Senior Scientist at Gallup has studied the effect of recognition in depth.  His findings show that, “Employees who report receiving recognition and praise within the last seven days show increased productivity, get higher scores from customers, and have better safety records. They’re just more engaged at work.”

Being let in on things going on in the company

This one has nothing to do with gossip.  It’s not water cooler talk.  Employees feel empowered and will do a better job if they are involved in decision making that impacts their job.  Involve them from the beginning to the end.  Ask for their opinion when writing your mission statement, ask them what the most important projects are, and ask them what they think is the best way to accomplish the important projects.  Not only will you motivate your employees, you will get better ideas and better results in your company.

“Effective Communication creates Engaged Employees who create Loyal Customers who in turn create Bigger Profits.” – Andy Parsley

Leading a company the military way

patton on leadershipI was recently asked if a military model of leadership was adequate to run a company.  When I responded seeking the definition of military leadership, I understood why the question was being asked.

There is a misperception of what military leadership really is: marching and drills, marching and drills…This initial response is usually taken from a movie, or television show that focused on basic training (boot camp) where the very beginning of military leadership is formed. Even children’s stories are filled with these ideas: Colonel Hathi’s March (The Elephant Song) from The Jungle Book says it this way: “The aim of our patrol,  Is a question rather droll,  For to march and drill, Over field and hill,  Is a military goal!” 

But the military wouldn’t be successful if this was the full extent of its leadership. The military has eleven principles of leadership.  I have summarized them below with a reference to how each of these is viewed in non-military professions.  You will see from these principles that the answer that a military model of leadership is not just adequate to run a company it is essential.

ELEVEN PRINCIPLES OF MILITARY LEADERSHIP 

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement – Learning is a lifelong task that you should continue no matter what you are doing. 

“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise.  View life as a continuous learning experience.” – Denis Waitley

2. Be tactically and technically proficient – In whatever business or profession you are in, aim to be the best.

“I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.” Abraham Lincoln

3. Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare – Take time to get to know them and look out for their health and well being. They will notice you genuinely care about them and probably perform better.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – John Maxwell

4. Keep your soldiers informed – Tell those you follow you what your plans are, accept their insight and suggestions, make them a part of the planning.

“We must open the doors of opportunity.  But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

5. Set the example – In everything you do you must do it well and set a good example.

“What you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished – Make sure you give clear instructions, ask for feedback on what your followers think you said.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

7. Train your soldiers as a team – Create community and teamwork.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

8. Make sound and timely decisions – Look at the options and then make the best choice.

“If a decision-making process is flawed and dysfunctional, decisions will go awry.” – Carly Fiorina

9. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates – Delegate certain jobs and tasks, training up new leaders.

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important that hiring and developing people.  At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Larry Bossidy

10. Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities – Align strengths with responsibilities.

“The key to any game is to use your strengths” – Paul Westphal

11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions –Taking responsibility for things is a key trait of a leader

Success on any major scale require you to accept responsibility…In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take on responsibility.”Michael Korda

Does a leader need power to lead?

leadership power - John MaxwellThe simple answer –Yes, leaders need power to lead.  John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Therefore, you need power in order to influence others if you want to be an effective leader.

The follow up question that we will explore is what kind of power does a leader need to lead?

There are two kinds of leadership power: those that fade and those that last.

Leadership Power that fades

These are the most often discussed, and unfortunately sometimes the most relied upon forms of Leadership Power. Let’s look at them and see why their effectiveness fades away in time if they are the only method used to influence others.

The Power of Position.  In this case, the leader has influence because of their position in the company.  They are in charge and can ask others to take actions based on that position.  This type of power fades as there is no sense of commitment or connection to a greater good. People only follow because they have to, not because they want to. 

“Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon

The Power of Perks.  All leaders can give away perks: raises, bonuses, vacation etc… None of these is bad in and of itself but realize as a leader, you will get the behavior you incent.  Your influence with this type of power fades as the commitment isn’t to the ultimate outcome, but to the immediate individual benefits.  When you rely too much on rewards you may find that people are working only for their rewards, which means decisions may be made that do not reflect the best answer for the team, company, customer, or shareholder.

 “The reward of a thing well done is having done it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Power of Punishment.  This is the opposite of the power of perks.  This enforces consequences for behavior you don’t want.  While your influence with this power will lead to short-term compliance, it will eventually create an atmosphere of insecurity and fear. People will become so afraid to make a mistake they will cease to make decisions and only do what they are specifically told by the leader.

“Nothing is more deflating to morale than to have a poor outcome pinned on someone who doesn’t deserve it.  It lacks integrity and overvalues the outcome at the expense of the people.” – Tony Dungy

Leadership Power that lasts

The types of Leadership Power which last, are not often seen as power.  In Leadership Power that lasts, the power is shared with others and not maintained by the leader.

The Power of Empowerment.  The true measure of a successful leader isn’t what they have – power, possessions, prestige – it is the legacy of empowering other leaders to achieve their own success.  Your success as a leader is defined by how many successful leaders you have helped grow.  Your influence as a leader will grow because of the success of those you influenced.

 “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” – John Maxwell

The Power of Character.  This is who you are inside.  Your intentions and your actions point in the same direction – helping others’ succeed.  With the power of your character you can influence people because of their respect for you.

“A leader…has authority due to their role, but their positional power will not bring about good for individuals or organizations unless it is backed up by the capital of character.” — Dan B. Allender

The Power of Conduct.  As a leader you and your team will face many tough circumstances.  You will need to influence them to not just survive, but thrive through these times.  Your conduct will be the key to their success.  When you remain calm, focused on the vision, and help your team find a plan the power of your conduct will be evident.

 “Circumstances are beyond human control, but our conduct is our power.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Leadership is the life you live.

jack welch leadershipA life of leadership is focused on helping others grow so they can achieve their maximum potential.  That sure sounds altruistic.  Well it’s more than that.  Read on to find out how living a life of leadership will bring your personal success.

Living a life of leadership brings simplicity.

“Life is complicated.”  Have you ever had someone use that as an explanation for why some things just aren’t working out in their life? Or worse, has someone used it to dodge responsibility for something they did in your life?  It’s true, life can be complicated; so un-complicate it.

Living a life of leadership lets you live a life of simplicity.  I take a very simple approach to life.  I view the world through one lens.  I don’t have family glasses, work glasses, and faith glasses.  I have one prescription which brings my entire life into focus. For me, there is no such thing as work-life balance, there is just your life and you have to balance everything. I look at every aspect of my life through a leadership lens. 

John Maxwell wrote a book titled There’s no such thing as business ethics.  He follows that up with the statement, “There’s just ethics.” It’s much simpler to know what to do when your actions don’t depend on your activity.

Albert Einstein had three rules of work.  The first of these is “… Out of clutter find simplicity…”

Living a life of leadership brings focus.

My goal every day for a life of leadership is just this simple as I said above: helping others grow so they can achieve their maximum potential.   I would like to claim responsibility for this simple statement, but many successful people discovered this long before I did.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson

Only a life lived for others is a life worth living.” – Albert Einstein

Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King Jr.

These three historic figures who maintained a single minded focus on leadership were powerful forces for change.  While scattered light brings warmth into a room, the power of light focused on a single point through a laser can bring together wounds, or separate metal.  A life of leadership will bring the power that comes from focusing all of your energy on that one goal.    

Living a life of leadership brings success.

A life of leadership has simple goals, and simple goals are easier to attain than complicated goals.  When you achieve your goals each day, you live a satisfied life.

“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Helping others succeed is easier than many people think, but is not something that is easy to find.  People take notice of those that notice them.

“When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

If you want to be known for something, there is nothing better than to be known as someone who helped others become the best they can be. 

“Build your reputation by helping others build theirs.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

How do you lead colleagues with more experience?

Listen-to-your-elders-adviceFirst, people with experience don’t always knows what is right. But if they are successful now, they have likely experienced being wrong – and learned from it.

Second, everyone has more experience on their job than you – after all they do it every day. 

Third, your experience in life is different than your colleagues.  Your background and education will be different than others.  Together, you can make your combined experience work to be mutually beneficial.

Finally, as a leader your job is not to do your colleagues job, or tell them how do to their job.  The leader’s job is to set the stage so that people of all experience levels can excel at their job.

Here are four areas for every leader to focus on, regardless of their level of experience:

Engage in relationship building with your colleagues.  All work takes place with people.  Even the most automated business has people running the automated processes.  The foundation of all leadership is the relationship between the leader and the team.

“If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business.” – Scott Stratten

Enlighten yourself and your colleagues on the strengths of each individual.  You have strengths and each person on your team has strengths.  It is through the joining of these strengths that success comes.

“The strength of the team is each individual member.  The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

Equip your colleagues with the tools and support they need to perform their role to the fullest.  Invest your time in providing opportunities for them to succeed. Make sure they have the best training, technology, and time management (priorities) you can provide.

“We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

 Empower your colleagues to succeed.  When you have engaged, enlightened and equipped your team, the best thing you can do is get out of the way. 

 Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” – John Maxwell

 

Leadership is Transformation

transformation-is-not-a-future-event-it-is-a-present-activityThe ultimate goal for every leader should be transformation.  Long term success requires continuous transformation for every company, team, and individual.  No company, team or individual can just stand still and succeed.  So if you want to transform a company you do it through its teams.  If you want to transform teams you do it through its individuals.  Therefore, all transformation is achieved through individuals.

Successful leaders know that you don’t try to transform people into what you want them to be.  You can only equip and empower people to transform into everything they can be – and only if they want to. After all, “A caterpillar only becomes a butterfly if it wants to fly so much that it is willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

Here are three key points about transformation that each individual must learn to succeed:

Transformation is possible  You may not be satisfied with your job, accomplishments, or the impact you have had on the world – so do something.  If you don’t like where you are then change, you are not a tree. You have the power to change where you are, or change right where you are. 

You decide where you plant your roots. One option for transformation is to change locations.  Get a new start.  There are opportunities all around you.  However, before you decide to pack up and leave consider that you are where you are right now in part because of you past actions.  Will you find yourself unsatisfied somewhere else?  As yourself if you have bloomed to your fullest potential right where you are?  John Maxwell has a great quote that says, “If you think the grass is greener on the other side then water your own lawn.”

Transformation takes planning  If only I could…says those that don’t.  What would you like to transform into?  Nothing happens overnight except the sunset and the sunrise.  Wherever you would like to be one year from now will take you 365 days to get there.  What is your plan for tomorrow to get you one step closer to your transformation?

Success is more about momentum around small wins than it is about big wins.” – Tom Peters

Transformation means change  Obtaining more than you have right now will require change.  Now that change could come from other people, your circumstances, your opportunities, or from you.  Of all of those possible changes, the only one you can control is you.  So while the world around you might change to meet your desires I wouldn’t suggest you count on that happening.  You will get what you seek quicker if you change first to at least meet the world halfway

Remember the wise words of Jones from Andy Andrews’ book The Noticer Returns, If you want to make a difference you have to be different.”

 

It’s not will you need to lead through a crisis, it’s when. Here’s how.

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If there is one guarantee in your leadership career it’s that your plans won’t always work. You will face a crisis or two that can derail your dreams if not handled correctly. Here is how other successful leaders have lead through crisis, come out on the other side intact, and gone on to achieve their dreams.

Aptitude. You have to know what to do in a crisis before there is a crisis.

During a crisis there is little time to think through options and there is no time to learn new skills. Experienced successful leaders already know what to do and how to do it when a crisis hits. How did they come upon this ability? They learned from others who were there before them and practiced before their own crisis happened.

Leadership expert John Maxwell tells a story about being on a private jet that hit a wind sheer during its landing. The plane turned sideways and bounced on the runway. As soon as wheels touched the ground, the pilot pulled the plane back up into the air, circled once and landed with no issues. John was impressed with the pilot’s actions and asked him when he decided to pull the plane up and out of the wind sheer? The pilot answered, “Twenty years ago when I learned how to react to any crisis that can happen during a landing.”

Attitude. You have to be willing to change course during a crisis to get back on course.

A crisis doesn’t mean the end to your dream, just a detour. Successful leaders never give in and never give up. They find a way to succeed.

I was in St. Thomas recently with a group of leaders and we had the opportunity to talk with three time Americas Cup winning skipper, Dennis Conner. We asked him what advice he could give us from his sailing experience on leading during a crisis. “It’s simple,” he said, “When winners face a crisis they just switch from being in front to finding a way to get back in front.

Altitude. You have to rise high above a crisis and be a beacon for others to follow.

The two most important words during a crisis are “Follow Me.” Now more than ever its time for the leader to be visible, vocal, and visionary. You own this one. It’s up to you to be right up front leading the charge.

Legendary French general and statesman Charles de Gaulle said, “Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.”

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