Understanding our Values

One of the traits that makes for a successful life is to find our consistency. The strongest leaders are those that have a consistency in how they make decisions. Every follower may not support the leader but even those individuals know their predictability. And, here is one part of life where you must be consistent—Decision making.

 From the time of birth, we are inculcated with signals from our parents to help form our values. We hear “NO” probably as often as any other word. Parents direct our behavior with approval or disapproval of our actions. Ultimately, we get a good idea of what our parents want us to do and what values they are stressing.

Religious regiments are another regulator of our reactions to life. They provide guidance helping us make the choices with difficult decision making opportunities. We are constantly making choices and those choices are either in line with or opposed to the values we’ve established. The sequence I write about in my book, Journeying on Holy Ground, is God, Family, Career—a decision clarifier. It’s been a good guidance for me particularly when I began my career.

I was recently reading a publication from High Point University in High Point, NC. My long-time friend, Nido Qubein, was recruited by High Point several years ago to be their President. Nido is not an educator but he is the most brilliant and successful businessman I’ve ever met. In this publication he states that when we are very clear on our values, decision making become easier. He mentions values such as service, hard work, generosity, and gratitude that he strives to have students adopt. I find them important enough to expand a bit on each one.

Service: There is no greater life than one of service. Our happiest moments occur when we are serving others in some capacity. On the job, at home, in the community—there are multiple occasions to serve. Why not search for those opportunities to serve others?

Hard Work: Many will tell you to work smart not hard. There is truth to that statement. But, because we work smart it doesn’t mean we can coast and take it easy. Smart and hard do go together. Be committed, continuously strive to be your best and, when working on your most significant projects, don’t work with a clock. Be willing to work hard to become smart!

Generosity: We are all gifted with talents. Don’t be stingy with them. If they can be used to serve, that is a true act of generosity. Share with others needing what you have at every opportunity. Have knowledge? Share it! I’ve been gifted by so many, including Nido, in my lifetime. They have generously helped me gain knowledge. Have money? Share it with others in need of this form of generosity. There is a good feeling few experience when we extend generosity to others. So, be generous.

Gratitude: So often we forget to extend a simple, “thank you” to others. That’s free and the more we practice using these words, the richer we become with life’s blessings. We should also be appreciative of what life throws into our lap. A talent, a new friendship, finding a soulmate, a new job, a raise—the list goes on and on. Appreciate life’s blessings, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Gratitude breeds positive thoughts. Positive thoughts open your mind to greater opportunities. In turn, greater opportunities introduce more successes. And, success should raise your gratitude mindset. I call this the “Circle of Gratitude.”

Understanding and living our values is the only path to reaching congruency in our live. Congruency removes tensions. Removing tensions creates greater happiness. Greater happiness allows one to truly live the life intended.

The Way We do Things Around Here

Look around your workplace. Take time to examine the structure of your family activities. If you’ve never made the connection, both have a common thread—Culture!

 Workplace: In the workplace there are methods on how to conduct day to day business activities. There are ways to interact with customers and with each other. There are acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors that blanket the entire organization. The way we do things around here may be a phrase you’ve heard your boss or other ranking manager say. And, you understand the unspoken message—do it our way or take the highway. Don’t rock the boat!

In a work setting, one cannot underestimate the role culture plays in the success or failure of the organization. Culture is the most dynamic force within the organization. It’s created by the dominant values and beliefs present. And, both emanate from organizational leaders. A stable culture is created by hiring employees that mimic the organizational values and beliefs. The closer the congruency, the happier the employee and their leaders. Hired “misfits” (individuals having incongruent values / beliefs) will not be as motivated, as committed to the company, not happy with their job and predictably, will eventually quit.

What type of culture exist in your workplace? Truly understanding it makes decisions easier and offers you these options: Embrace it, work to change it or simply move on.

Family: In a family setting, it’s the role of parents to establish family values and beliefs. Like the workplace, doing this will establish a family culture. Parents are leaders and they define how we do things as a family. Reinforcing behaviors brings a stability important to the development of children. There is little difference between setting up a successful organization and developing a successful family atmosphere. What type of culture exist in your home? How are you as family leaders influencing the adult your child will become?

Good Books for Establishing Culture: I would once again remind you that my book, Journeying on Holy Ground, contains a sound approach to building a strong family structure from raising children to creating a sound marital relationship. And, the rest of the book has powerful messages to build a better YOU! My first book, Searching for Success was recently revised with lots of great new content. Check out the content of each book on the messages at my website, www.SearchingForSuccess.com

Lesson of the Month: Organizations need to stay relevant with internal processes, growing employees and satisfying customers. Inertia in this arena can be fatal to your business or career. In the latter, it’s important that individually we continue to grow and avoid stagnation of the mind. The world is fast moving and easily takes “prisoners” locking them up preventing a newness and refreshing growth cycle. Don’t get “arrested” by the “lazy police.” Break out, free yourself and the organization with a focused action plan and you will soon not have competition to stifle your successes.

Monthly Book Recommendation

Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment! Written by Nancy Bieber and available on Amazon, her book is filled with sound decision making ideas. Want greater successes and personal happiness, learn how to make the best decisions for your life. Want to grow a stronger spiritual presence? Buy this book! That will be a great decision!

Services Available

What is the Culture in your organization? Looking for solutions to improve it? Why not call Billy to discuss your needs and changes you’d like to incorporate to create your Culture. He’s a seasoned consultant with a track record to get this done. Assimilation of information to identify “what is” present in your workplace is his expertise. Recommending the right corrective action is his trademark!! Don’t wait. Take action. The contact is free—the results priceless.

 

Becoming a Wise Leader

The pinnacle of respect in life is when someone acknowledges you are a wise person. The acquisition of wisdom should be your lifelong search. Wisdom is especially critical for those in leadership positions. There is no age limit when one can be wise but it is somewhat proportional to the years of experience one brings to the table. That is one of the redeeming qualities of getting old or having years of valuable experience.

As you strive to build more success into your life and career, why not use these five stages of dealing with wisdom as your guidance tool. That would be a wise move on your part.

Collect Wisdom: Leaders never stop learning. Part of the learning curve requires studying everything you can.  This will help you perform your job better each day. Glean wisdom from books. Observe the action of others.  Listen to CD’s. Watch videos. Attend training sessions, or talk to other leaders. It’s important that you don’t rest on your laurels and think “I’m a good enough leader and I don’t need to learn anything new.” Once you get comfortable, you’ve begun to lose ground. It takes a constant effort to be wise. It only takes a lazy learner to remain dumb

Categorize Wisdom: It does one no good to have the world’s greatest library of information. You must be able to find the information. Having trouble finding information? Get organized. Become familiar with the content of your books. Clip articles and file them with proper labels. Sort videos and CD’s so content is not difficult to find. Use your computer to compartmentalize topics. Record information from seminars, the internet, newsletters, articles, etc. Place in a folder that can is retrievable. I use “research” as a folder and list files under that topic. When I open this folder, I can scan and open the right file. You should be able to locate information in a minute or two if you are well organized. If you end up going on an information safari, you’re in a jungle. Get it cleaned up.

Meditate on Wisdom. It does you no good to collect information if you don’t read it and think about how you might use the information in a leadership role. Not everything you discover will work for you. It takes time to process the information in light of your circumstances. Doing so allows for a better decision process. Early in my career as a manager, I worked for someone who used to tell me, “Billy, you need to just sit down and think sometimes.” I was young, competitive, and wanting a quick resolution to everything. I didn’t have time to waste thinking. I needed action. What a stupid mistake! As I matured on the job, the message finally sank into my brain. I now appreciate how important just thinking can be. I hope you also see the value of this habit. It is a dramatic time saver.

Memorize it. You can only use what you know. Having knowledge in a computer file or on a book shelf is useless unless you know it. As you collect, categorize and meditate on wisdom, lock the ideas into your brain. Then, when you face a tough leadership decision, you’ll have a resource available to you. I’m impressed with people who can share thoughts that solve problems. I appreciate a wise individual. Such people are reassuring and confidence builders.

Share it. The true leader shares their knowledge. Serving others is the ultimate act of kindness. Leaders who make others stronger by sharing their knowledge get it. They understand hording knowledge is selfish and unkind. Never feel threatened by someone to such a degree that you do not help them. Situations where such individuals do us harm are rare. Open your heart in a trusting fashion and share your wisdom. It’s satisfying becoming the teacher.

So there you have it—the cycle of finding and sharing wisdom for the greater good of mankind. Want respect? Be wise. Want to be wise? Give your knowledge away. Doing these things will bring more joy into your life than a person deserves.

 

 

Three Quotes to Help Build Your Career

“We need to be confronted by our actions, messages, and shortcomings if we expect to learn and grow. No more hiding behind excuses. No blaming others. No hiding behind phrases like—this is just the way I am.”            E. James Wilder

 Performance improvement comes when you constantly review your actions, the messages you deliver in your work environment, and the techniques that need to get better. You accept full responsibility for what does or does not happen with your career—No excuses! You are in charge!

To become better and stronger, be willing to change. Who you are today does not have to be who you are tomorrow. You are the way you are because of the choices you’ve made. You can become who you want to be by the same choice process.

  

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”                Fredrick Buechner

 What is your deep gladness? Many have difficulty finding the answer to that question. They are unwilling to build a focus that becomes the deep gladness in their life. Earn the right to be a leader in your field. Find that passion you can’t wait to follow. Focus, focus, focus. It’s much better than being a wandering generality.

Now comes the tricky part. You must find what the deep hunger of your customers and assess if your business offerings address this need. It’s not sufficient to be passionate about your career choice. There must also be someone who wants to reap the results of that passion. When you find the match—BINGO! You win, your customers win and your career is on the fast track.

 

“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot—and missed! And, I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And, that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

 The desire to improve drove Michael Jordan to stardom. The willingness to risk and take on responsibility—to be in charge—is an acceptable challenge. Jordan took his winning attitude to the top. He is the consummate professional.

What about you? Is your desire to improve a driving force or do you simply keep doing the same things over and over again? Do you take risks and occasionally get out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to stretch your talents to reach your potential?

As a professional, you are entrusted to deliver the best you are capable of delivering. Your every action represents the best you can do. You learn from your failures. When things go bad, you overcome the temporary setback and make your next activity your best? Who knows, you just might become another Michael Jordan!

 

10 Ideas to Manage the Work Force of Tomorrow

If you are in a leadership position today, here are ten ideas to help you successfully lead the newest generation of workers—Millennials or Gen X. They are different and here is why.

Provide a Structured Environment: Gen X workers may well be the most protected generation of children ever raised. Parents, sometimes called “Helicopter Parents,” have hovered over them from birth. Organizational leaders should take a clue from this fact and set up definitive guidelines regarding work responsibilities. Tell workers what you expect and what parameters guide their work practices. Structure sells—freelancing fizzles.

Encourage. This group of workers becomes more highly motivated when encouraged by their managers. Positive strokes for the folks are the buzz words that will make a difference in personal performance. On the other hand, negative feedback can be devastating because Millennials fear failing. Encouraging workers has always been important but in today’s workforce, the value of this type of leadership is growing exponentially.

Use Teams. Gen X students grew up in a very social, multi-cultural and collaborative environment. And, that now carries over into the workplace. Their strong ability to network and willingness to be connected 24/7 is a real strong suit they bring to the table. Use teams and you win. Isolate workers and your productivity and profits move south.

Value Their Ideas and Opinions. Millennials want meaningful work. They are goal oriented and want to contribute. They believe in themselves and want to be heard. Involve them in decision making. Give credit and encouragement when they make contributions. Valuing their contribution is visionary leadership. Ignoring the good they can bring to the organization is leadership gone blind.

Eliminate Multi-tasking. I’m going to go against the grain with this point. In childhood, Gen X workers watched TV, talked on the phone and did their homework all at the same time. Undertaking multiple tasks is commonplace and doesn’t faze them. While that opens the door for giving them multiple assignments, research has proved it to be less productive than focused attention to one task at the time. Eliminating multi-tasking will, in the long term, produce a more productive and happier employee.

Incorporate Technology. Most organizations understand that to survive, they must embrace technology. And, that position is a great fit for the new generation of workers. They grew up with TV, the Internet, laptops, cell phones, beepers, iPod’s, Blackberries, Palm Pilots and video games. They love technology and have absolutely no fear using it. They have lead a high-tech lifestyle. Listen to their input on this matter and you’ve energized and utilized them to the max.

Provide Leadership and Guidance. One of the downsides of this generation is that they don’t want to lead. They want strong leadership but it is not a job they wish to pursue. That provides a challenge to the management team because it is their job to develop new leaders. By encouragement, utilization of their skills and desire to do a good job, good leaders can change thinking and find those few who are willing to undertake the responsibilities of leading others. In the meantime, provide them with good, strong leadership and they will produce for you.

Capitalize on Their Networking Abilities. In point # 3, I mentioned their networking abilities. This characteristic is so important because business is built on relationships.  nd, Millennials are good relationship builders. Capitalize on that strength in an organizational team environment as well as with your customers. Remember, these workers are social by nature so relating comes naturally.

Understand Their Loyalty. Because of their structured home environment, Gen X youngsters accept authority well. They even trust authority and like their parents. But they bore easily and have a short attention span. If your workplace does not match their expectations, they are gone. Like their attention span, their loyalty can sometimes be short. Leaders need to understand this brand of loyalty and keep the challenges coming and the work exciting. Menial tasks will definitely move them out. This may be the biggest challenge facing today’s workforce leaders.

Provide Work that is Fun but Provides Time for a Balanced Lifestyle. I recently spoke to a group on the topic, How To Master Your Time and Bring Balance To Your Life.  The convention session was held at 8:45 on a Sunday morning. Over 300 people filled the room to capacity and a large number were turned away because of the fire code. That tells me folks are looking for fun and balance. Become a creative leader by making your work environment enjoyable while allowing time for workers to be with their families and enjoy time away from work. If you want to keep Gen X workers, that may be your only choice.

A Personal Search for Writing Success

Most want to be successful at something. We seek to find the niche in which we create the happiness that can only come from doing what we love to do. Permit me to share a personal chronology of events that have shaped my life and career as a writer—a most unlikely destination given my lowly beginnings. I share this story to illustrate that improvement of any skill only occurs with practice. Take time to identify a key skill you wish to improve and use the template described below to create your own path. You can do it. But it will only occur if you take the first step!

My Story:  When I was Junior in High School, my English teacher gave us a writing project. As she returned my paper, she told the class my paper was one of the worst she had ever read. It was just very hard to hear the message during class time. My disinterest in writing certainly contributed to the quality of the outcome. However, that comment stung and really worked on my confidence as a writer for many years. But in the end, I must admit she was right and my writing skills needed much improvement.

The Strategy:  Aristotle said, “If you want to learn to play a flute, you must play the flute.” Using that logic, I decided if I wanted to learn to write, I needed to write. I persuaded the editor of our local newspaper to let me write a weekly column. Over time, I expanded the topics to a variety of subjects to broaden the interest of readers and to challenge my writing skills a bit more. It was a meager beginning, but forcing myself to write was actually helping me write better.

Another strategy that enhanced my writing ability was to increase my reading habit. In the 1970’s, my love of reading ignited to a passionate level. I read every book I could find about success principles, leadership, and management topics. I suspect this passion was really the catalyst for my now being so passionate about writing and speaking on those topics today. The final piece of the strategy fell in place when I began speaking professionally. Having to craft a message for my audiences made me think more deeply about the power and impact of my words. And that approach was a direct help in crafting words on paper.

My current writings are focused to expand the universe of effective leadership on an individual as well as an organizational level. I want people to look deeply at their potential and to help them master the art of leading themselves and others. And, the thought of writing information that can make a difference in the life of my readers is an awesome, yet humbling responsibility I take very seriously.

The Wall:  The challenge remains to be disciplined enough to actually write. The inspiration and energy, in spite of a passion to write, can be inconsistent thus productivity becomes inconsistent. For those wishing to write, be aware of this wall of resistance. I’ve learned to climb over the wall by scheduling specific times to write. Even if I only produce a few sentences, it’s a good day. So remember, if you want to write, you must engage in the act of writing.

My MentorsI can remember hearing the words of Earl Nightingale at a very early age. I admired his ability to tightly craft a message with impactful words. Years later, someone gave me a copy of the classic self-help book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. This book really started me thinking about how to create more success in my life. Another author, Og Mandino, through his books and writings in Successmagazine, added to this desire to improve. I had the good fortune to actually meet and have a conversation with both Og and Earl. What a thrill! Today, one of my favorite authors is John Maxwell. I’d love to meet him and share a bit of conversation. Through books, one can re-shape their mind and improve themselves. It’s what happened to me and what I hope happens every time someone reads my words.

The Ultimate Writing Project:  The thought of writing a book seemed as daunting a task as climbing Mt. Everest. We think about it but rarely take the first step to climb the mountain. In July 1995, I attended a session with Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, authors of the hugely successful Chicken Soup for the Soul best sellers. Their words gave me the breakthrough idea on how to structure my book. I set a goal to complete it by December 31. I beat the goal by one day. But the task wasn’t complete until my writings were reviewed by a good editor. Louise McLaughlin was recommended and greatly helped me structure sentences, write stories, and craft my words in a more stimulating and effective way. She was brutally honest, something one needs the review of their writings, and offered comments and pushed me to improve the quality of my message. In the end, the struggle paid off. My first book, Searching for Success sold well, helped me build my speaking career, and is now helping people in seven foreign countries. In 2014, I updated the original version with new information and now have it available in print and digital format.

My second book, Journeying on Holy Ground—Christian Strategies to Reach Your Personal, Professional and Spiritual Destiny, is a “Life Manual” for setting priorities. And, one of the highlight moments in the creative process of writing this book was to hear Louise, who also edited this book, comment that my writing had really improved since I wrote the first book.

Since writing my first column, I’ve written hundreds of articles and am currently in the final states of my third book, Leadership Solutions that Improve Performance. I will continue writing as many books and articles as life allows me to write. The passion to share a meaningful message drives me every day. Over forty-five years ago, I forced myself to write because that was the only way I could improve my skills. It’s worked for me and it will work for you if you just WRITE!

Now if only my English teacher were still alive!

PS: Use these steps in your personal quest for success: (1) Identify an area of your life that you need to improve (2) Develop a strategy (3) ID obstacles and create plans to overcome them (4) Find mentors to help along the way and to stimulate your internal motivation (5) Spend time in research (6) Jump in and take action. Be ready to suffer disappointments but don’t let anything stop you. (7) Stay humble and appreciative you’ve achieved your goal (8) Start dreaming again, only this time, make it bigger!

10 Tips to Get the Attention of Your Boss

Workers who possess personal ambition are always seeking ways to improve their positioning with their boss. Here are ten time-tested techniques that will make your boss take notice of your personal performance. As you read through the list, think about your own performance. How many items on the list are part of your work style? How many do you fail to use? Important questions to answer as you seek upward mobility within your company.

After implementing these steps, if you don’t get a positive comment perhaps it is time to look elsewhere for work! Good luck.

Complete work assignments on time. When given a task, do it well and do it within the timeframe assigned. If your boss gives you an unreasonable timeline, discuss it. Repeatedly turning in work late is the first step to disciplinary action or termination.

If you don’t know, admit it. BS will get you nothing. When asked about some work activity, don’t try faking it till you make it. Taking the wrong action can be dangerous to your safety and fatal to your career. Admit your lack of information but make sure you learn the answer. Earn the reputation for honesty and knowing what you are talking about when you speak and what action to take when you act.

Provide solutions, not problems. Continually going to your boss with problems is not an endearing act. Think about solutions and offer them when you discuss problems with your boss. He or she will appreciate your contribution.

Don’t hide your mistakes. This is always a tough one but in the long run, if you mess up, fest up to it. Don’t point fingers or blame others. If you did it, own up to it.

Understand the expectations of your boss. Learn what is important to your boss regarding workplace performance. As you size up opportunities within the organization, strive to meet those expectations.

Learn from performance reviews. Use performance review periods as a learning experience, not excuse time. Listen carefully to the critique offered and resolve to improve on every point discussed. Offer goals that will enhance the work environment and hopefully improve the profit margin in the coming year. Complete them well and sit back to hear the good news during the next review period.

Look around at what can be improved. Most work environments have many small things that can be done to improve efficiency and effectiveness. If you have the skill to improve some work process, offer to do it. This is going beyond the call of duty and will get the attention of people above you.

Show up and be on time. Being responsible includes coming to work. Sick days are just that. They are not vacation time. If your work day starts at 8:00AM, be there a few minutes early and when 8:00AM comes, begin working, not socializing. You are being paid to work and that is what you should do.

Get along with your fellow workers.  No one likes a contrary personality nor is are confrontational people appreciated. Teamwork and cooperation go a long way towards endearing yourself to your co-workers and your supervisors. You have a professional obligation to work well with others, even when you don’t like them personally.

Minimize socializing. It is certainly OK to engage in a bit of trivial conversation during the work day. But doing so too much is costly to your employer. Think about what you earn per hour and then add up the total of your “social time” each day. If you add up such time for the entire workforce, it becomes significant dollars. Be friendly but do your work.

So….how many are missing from your daily work practices? Just forgetting about one could be costly. Think of other positive contributions you can make and you are well on your way to getting noticed and pushed up the career ladder.

Are You the Perfect Boss?

All employees want to have a happy and enjoyable relationship with their supervisor or manager.  But, sometimes they get the “boss from hell!”  How would your employees rate you?  Here a few ideas to help you assess your performance and help you become, the perfect boss.

Keep lines of communication open.  Accessibility is the name of the game.  Employees want to be able to speak to their supervisor in times of need and even sometimes just to build a strong relationship.  Managers have the obligation to make themselves accessible and not stifle the ability of employees to reach them.  Be willing to receive feedback on what employees see in their work environment and on issues that, if resolved quickly, will keep morale and trust in management high. Be easy to talk to and approachable by all.  Don’t assume a superior posture because you are in charge.  Be friendly and fun to be around.

Practice integrity in all you do.  If you have no word, you have nothing.  Be a man or women of honor at all times.  Demonstrate and live by high standards of behavior.  Everyone is watching you and how you behave will ultimately reflect how workers will behave.  It’s very important that you be the shining example.  This is probably one of the most important characteristics you can possess.

Be a straight shooter.  Tell employees what is going on regarding their performance and, whenever possible, what is going on in the company.  Don’t bend the truth, don’t set up roadblocks to accurate information and don’t purposely provide misleading information.  Your workers want to know they can rely on you for the straight scoop and what job responsibilities they need to improve to maintain their employment.

Be an encourager of creative thinking.  Too often, we tend to want employees to stay within the box and not wander into new directions.  Employees can be amazingly creative when encouraged to contribute.  Just because something is done a certain way does not make that method the only and best way to complete a task.  At least once a week, if not every day, you should be looking for some creative way to improve on the everyday tasks employees are charged to carry out.  Let them take some risks and you will be pleasantly surprised at how their suggestions can improve productivity and make a positive impact on the bottom line.

Be a positive thinker.  Your attitude can either poison the work atmosphere or bring the smell of roses to the work place.  “Stinking thinking” is unacceptable.  Yes, you can have a bad moment but having a bad day is like spreading poison.  Eventually this type of thinking will lower morale, trust, productivity and anything else that takes place within your work environment.  As you go, so do workers.  Be rock solid with your thought process and the shining example all want to emulate. It is especially important that you be balanced in your reaction to issues that surface in the work place.  Don’t be the overly excitable manager or one that loses it often.  Workers want positive role models, not volcanoes.

Choose good people.  That choice seems obvious but how often do we keep the underachiever or the non-contributing worker.  Set your standards at reasonable heights and hold everyone accountable to perform to those standards.  Surround yourself with competence; develop the talents of workers to maximize their contribution and everyone wins.  When you find someone that really fits, do everything you can to maximize their development and contribution.  Good people want to help and good managers let them.

 Teach your employees to understand the bottom line.  As part of the truth sharing process, one must include how the company is doing financially.  Again, employees are very creative and will, when given the opportunity, help improve the bottom line.  They have a vested interest to stay employed.  The more you can share about what brings costs up, the easier it will be to bring costs down.  When employees have a firm grasp on cash flow issues, it is almost impossible for a company to fail.  (I’m assuming you have a good product or service to offer.)

Provide positive strokes for positive folks.  Outstanding performance demands outstanding feedback.  Let people know when they are doing a good job.  Reward the best.  Everyone has strong needs to be appreciated and to feel a sense of importance.  Positive strokes surface those feelings.

 Demonstrate empathy for everyone.  Recognize that you must place yourself in the other person’s shoes when making your decisions.  Strive to fully understand and appreciate the ramifications of your decisions and how they impact workers.  Use a 360-degree view so no side of a decision is overlooked.  When you’ve analyzed all possibilities and you successfully communicate that fact to workers, there is little you can do that will be totally unacceptable to them.  Even reductions in force are more acceptable when the proper empathetic mindset is used.

Coach.  Strong coaching ability is a necessary set of skills all managers should strive to possess.  A good coach recognizes talents, understands the game rules, has a course of action that counters obstacles and knows what activities to undertake to win the game.  Simply stated, good coaches win more than they lose.  The work environment is much like the playing field in an athletic contest.  Use this game time mentality to plan your day-to-day actions and outscore your competition.

 Your Action Steps

 Take this article to your employees and ask them to rate you on a scale of 1-10 for each point.  Do it anonymously so the pressure is off.  Be warned, it takes a courageous manager to do this.  But, if you are bold enough to accept the results you will take a serious step towards becoming the perfect boss.  Use the common school grading system to rate your performance:  A = 100-94; B = 93-88; C = 87-78, D = 78-66 and 65-0 scores an F.  Resolve to take every issue that surfaces and seek improvement when necessary.

Good luck.  I hope all of you are promoted, not retained!

21 Characteristics of an Effective Safety Leader

All great safety programs are headed by great leaders. Mastering leadership skills is equally as important as mastering safety skills. They must work hand and glove for you to develop an outstanding safety initiative within your organization. Review these twenty-one ideas from the lens of the consummate safety professional. This is a good list to begin to examine your performance and the commitment of organizational owners and/or senior management. Over time, continue to add to the list. It’s a commitment with a huge benefit for you personally, for the greater good of the organization and for the overall safety of those under your responsibility.

(1) Be a more visible leader of safety initiatives. It’s important employees see you as the “action” person who does not let safety issues go unanswered. Your response to issues helps build trust in the process and the overall efforts put forth by the safety department and senior management. As the organizations’ safety professional, you represent owners or upper management. Be sure you have their backing otherwise your effectiveness will diminish. Not only must safety personnel be visible but when they find anything out of compliance, it must be corrected. Being visible while not enforcing safety behavior and/or conditions is an instant loss of credibility. Don’t fall into this trap of complacency!

(2) React quickly to safety issues / concerns raised. You don’t want to be considered a “black hole” when it comes to safety. Employees raising concerns want answers. Even if nothing can be done, it is critically important to respond in a timely manner and explain what can be done to protect employees or correct a safety deficiency. Set deadlines for yourself to get back to individuals who request your help. The more rapid the response, the greater credibility you will establish. Procrastination doesn’t work here!

 (3) Become a “take charge” leader. Don’t wait around for others to do what you should be doing. Be aggressive in addressing issues. Be on the forefront of issues. Let people view you as someone who can lead and does lead. Being indecisive, non-responsive and/or a procrastinator, “discharges” your effectiveness and followship. People want to sense they have a strong leader that knows what he or she is doing. Don’t shy away from your responsibilities. Meet them head on and get them done. Taking responsibility is the highest form of accountability!

(4) Complete assignments in a timely fashion. Leave no open-ended issues. Strong leaders finish what they start and they do things in as efficient and effective a manner as they are able. Incomplete assignments are unacceptable behaviors. Break the task into small parts with deadlines for each one within the time frame allotted for completion of the task. A deadline keeps you on track and assures completion. If you need help, seek it. Just don’t let things fall by the wayside. That does not endear you to your management, your peers or your employees. Learn the rudiments for setting priorities and use of your time!

(5) Anticipate issues. Be proactive. Always look for a better way. Keep your eyes on the big picture. When you view safety initiatives, always look for ways to improve the process. Again, be aggressive anticipating events before they surface. Keeping this prospective will minimize the likelihood of a catastrophic event occurring without warning. It’s about prevention, taking the initiative, and making improvement—the only way to approach your responsibilities. Strive to maintain the rule of “no surprises” when it comes to safety incidents!

(6) Don’t fall behind. Stay on task. Offer no excuses. Get things done quickly and right. Purchase some type of time management system such as the Franklin-Covey or Day Timer systems. If you prefer, use a computer, iPhone or other hand-held device to plan your tasks. The bottom line is you only need one calendar–one schedule of events you can refer to and see everything you’ve scheduled for the day. Decide on the system that works best for you and eliminate all others. Multiple calendars are out! Start each day by prioritizing items in their order of importance and get started. A better approach is to plan your day the evening before so you can jump in quickly with action items. By making a list from which to work, you always know the incomplete tasks ahead. This allows better scheduling and proficiency. It’s also nice to cross an item off your list to add to your sense of accomplishment. Avoid the confusion of post-it notes, multiple calendars, poor memory or a lack of priority. These are deadly!

(7) Hold everyone accountable to do their share of the safety process. A true leader does their tasks but also requires those who undertake assignments for them to also complete their work. Accountability is a key characteristic all great leaders incorporate into their activities and they expect the same level of accountability from those they lead. Raise the tolerance level regarding your performance and the performance of others. The result of this mindset serves as a catalyst for moving people to new heights of performance. People will work at your lowest tolerance level1

(8) Be a team player. Work well with everyone regardless of how you feel personally about them. First and foremost, you must always be a professional. And true professionals know they must work with everyone within the organization. Build the reputation of being a cooperative and cordial player. It’s important to note you don’t have to like everyone but you have a professional obligation to work well with them. In today’s work environment, teamwork and individual responsibility are key components successful businesses have incorporated into their culture. Being a pro means professional behavior, regardless of the circumstances. If you cannot do this, you don’t deserve to lead…..period! There is no “I” in team.

(9) Keep everyone informed of your activities. It’s better for your manager to tell you to send updates on a project less frequently than to have them not know what is happening. As you work through projects, keep everyone informed regarding the progress made. This is not as critical for short-term projects but it is important for projects extending over several weeks. Use short emails, memos, phone calls—the best communication media for the situation. Document all contacts made on your daily calendar so you can chronicle your activities should anyone question your efforts or communications. It’s also smart to keep a copy of all materials forwarded to anyone involved with the project. This can be a career saver in a “touchy” situation. Never forget the person with the best notes will generally win the disagreement. Avoid the “secretive” mindset of losers. Winners are comfortable sharing.

(10) If given an assignment, do it. Don’t be told twice. When discussing an assignment from your manager, don’t leave until you are very clear on the outcome desired and when it is expected to be done. But, when the discussion is done and you are clear regarding your tasks, do them. Confidence and trust in your leadership abilities diminishes greatly if you have to be repeatedly told to start or complete a task. An agile mindset works well. Carrying out your projects after the initial discussion increases your credibility and greatly enhances the trust level your management team will have in you. And, losing trust can be deadly to your career. Promotions are prompted by displaying you can do things!

(11) Raise your enthusiasm for all you do. Enthusiasm can be initiated for anything. For example, when you conduct safety training, do it in a professional manner with great enthusiasm and passion. You will want to make your safety training interesting, participatory and energizing for attendees. You want that enthusiasm to spread. Thinking you don’t like to do a task, will make the task a drudgery. Being enthusiastic about undertaking a task will make the activity a pleasure to perform. It’s all in the mind. To be perceived as enthusiastic, you must be enthusiastic. Behaving this way makes you a more pleasant person to be around. No one likes to be around boring and unenthusiastic people. So don’t be one! Enthusiasm energizes. Apathy de-energizes!

(12) Stay busy. Minimize socializing. When you come to work, be prepared to work. Earn your pay by your productivity. Yes, it’s important to take an occasional break. But, you are not paid to socialize. You are paid to produce results. Visit but be constantly aware when visiting becomes a time wasting activity. Busy people get more done. And, people who get more done gain a higher level of respect in an organization. People with a higher level of respect usually have a greater opportunity to rise on the ladder of responsibility. Staying busy producing results works! Idleness is said to be the Devil’s workshop.

(13) Keep current on safety regulations. As a professional, you must continually build your learning curve. Network with fellow professionals, read magazines and books on safety and/or attend safety conferences. Use the internet to research a topic or issue. Keep learning and you will grow. If you are not learning, you are regressing because there is always something new on the horizon. Most important is to never get caught violating of a regulation simply because you were not proactive enough to keep up. Regulatory inspectors are not looking for excuses. They want implementation of items, not a non-compliant safety program. Make a commitment to learn something new every day. It’s the schedule of a Pro!

(14) Be punctual. If you schedule a meeting or are requested to participate in a meeting, be there on time. Several years ago, while working in the private sector, we implemented a policy of closing the door when our meeting started. Anyone arriving late had to lead the group in a cheer. Once the company president was late and we made him be our cheerleader. He was never late again. Yes, it’s risky behavior but it works when everyone is forewarned and you follow through on your promise. If you have an unavoidable delay, contact the person and let them know your status and when you anticipate arriving. This behavior simply comes down to being respectful and courteous to others. Punctionality is a sure sign of politeness!

(15) Act like you want the job. To be considered for a leadership position, you must display an ability to do the job. Acting indifferent or in an inefficient manner does not endear one to becoming a leader. If you want to be the safety leader, let people know by your actions that you can handle the job. Great leaders don’t accept a “half-way” performance from themselves or from those they lead. You are in charge so act that way! Laziness in your work can be lethal for your career!

(16) Manage by walking around. Be visible in the field. To help you get out of the office, schedule facility tours on a random schedule. You don’t want your “walking around” to be predictable. This random schedule tends to keep people on their best safety behavior because they don’t know when you are likely to show up. When you are visiting an area, talk to people about safe behavior. If you see anything unsafe, have it corrected. Being visible ties the job to you. An important component of this process is to not be perceived as an enforcer or policeman for good safety. Your job is to change behavior. Being visible, if you are seen as someone not tolerating unsafe behavior or practices, is normally good enough to show people you are serious. Simply put, you cannot manage safety from your office. Wandering will eliminate wondering if all is going well with safety!

(17) You are always on display. Never forget everyone is looking to you for leadership of the safety initiatives. Your behavior, demeanor, and attitude are in a constant evaluation mode. Let everyone see what they need to see in order to build confidence in your leadership ability and in the overall safety initiatives undertaken by your department. One letdown can cause you grief for a long time. Great safety leaders understand this and don’t let their guard down. Poor judgement can produce pain and suffering for your safety process!

(18) Provide solutions, not problems: Great leaders do not give their managers problems to solve. They take the initiative and provide solutions. This is a proactive position. Your job is not to unload “monkeys” on the back of those who manage your job activities. Take on problems and create workable solutions if you want to truly make an impression on those who are watching your performance. And never forget the people you lead have a brain and can offer innovative solutions. It doesn’t always have to be about “you.” “Us” works a lot better. Turn problems into opportunities!

(19) Be easy to work with: Become a “servant leader.” Those leaders who strive to provide top quality service to those they lead will separate themselves from the average crowd. Don’t make life difficult for those who need to work with you in any capacity. Be cordial, polite, and generous with your knowledge. Share what you know and become helpful as best you can. In the long run, helping others with a service mentality results in greater rewards for you and recognition of your leadership abilities. Safety managers cannot survive as prima-donnas. Your manager should tell you if someone complains about your cooperation, that individual will be asked what is wrong with them!

 (20) Leadership references: Continue to grow your knowledge of safety leadership. Find good books that speak to leadership issues. Two of my favorite authors on leadership are John Maxwell and John Wooden. Both offer practical leadership ideas applicable in virtually every leadership endeavor one might undertake. Read the books with a highlighter and pen. When you read a passage you find significant, highlight it. As you read, write notes on pages where personal thoughts or ideas are generated. Then the book becomes a living document to which you can refer over and over again. Build a library of references. Serious students of leadership and management never stop looking for the next great idea to help build their career or add to their success components. Leadership is where the rubber meets the road!

 (21) View your work as a career building opportunity, not a job. Too many people only want to collect a good paycheck without providing the necessary effort to earn that pay. Viewing your work as a career and not a job gives one an entirely different prospective. Careers offer a future and greater security than a job. A career mentality enables you to see the bigger picture and ultimately make more significant contributions. People with jobs think about the weekend, not their future. Take the long view, the sights are much better!

 Closing Commentary

 Well, how do you rate against the list? I’ll spot you five points and let you rate yourself on 20 @ five points each for a perfect score of 100. Be honest or, more importantly, let others rate your performance. People that work for you are a great place to start. If you are doing all these things, your people will be proud to help you. If you are not doing so great, this might be a wake-up call if your boss hasn’t fired you yet!

Make it a habit to periodically review these leadership qualities with the intent of continuously improving your performance. That’s what true leaders do. Are you ready to join this elite group?

Creating a Stronger More Effective Workforce

In these days of necessary cost cutting efforts as part of the daily “must do” activities every business should have in place, I’d like to share some ideas on how you can not only save dollars but create a more proficient workforce at the same time. I call them the “Magic 5” tips.

  1.  Improve and Increase Employee Training: Reduction of training dollars is normally one of the first cuts made when the financial flow gets low. But good leaders understand that every day should be a training effort on their part. There should be constant scrutiny for ways to save time, money, and human energy to get the job done. It’s everyone’s duty to seek ways to make these three cost-cutting activities part of their job. Pair seasoned employees with new hires. Make knowledge sharing a good thing, not something to be protected and never shared. When funds are available, bring in an outside voice. When funds are tight, bring in the voice of others within your department. The bottom line will improve if you always consider training to grow new knowledge an integral part of your workplace. This is not a practice you want to eliminate.
  2.  Create or Improve Teamwork: I often tell audiences the power of many is far greater than the power of one. There is an immense amount of brain power at your disposal—it’s called employees! As a leader, you foster cordial and trusting working relationships, first between you and those you lead and second, between every member of your team. Grow your team power by tapping every ounce of knowledge your employees bring to the table. Open your mind to their ideas. Encourage their contributions and cooperation to the team effectiveness. Teamwork offers opportunities to find ways to save dollars, to improve productivity, and to build a creative and energizing environment.
  3.  Show appreciation: No one likes to be taken for granted. And, that goes double for those who work for you. Let everyone know how much you value their contributions at every opportunity. You can further that appreciation by enhancing or adding employee benefits whenever possible. Certainly the cost of such benefits plays is paramount to being able to offer them. But money need not always play into the equation. Leaders understand employees, when properly appreciated, will not be as demanding. A benefit mentioned earlier is training. Show appreciation by cross-training employees to give them greater job security. Show appreciation by a simple “thank you” when a job is well done. Show appreciation by providing honest employee performance appraisals with growth plans to improve. The list can be endless. Use your creativity and conversations with employees for other ideas.
  4.  Provide Support for employees: As the leader, an important aspect of your responsibilities is to be supportive of those you lead. Employees depend upon you to help them succeed and grow their career. They want your acknowledgment when they do positive things. Being supportive doesn’t mean you cannot reprimand when performance is truly bad. On the contrary, being supportive is offering corrective advice on how to not repeat the performance again. Remember, it’s all about training and educating to your expectations. That in itself is a supportive move on your part.
  5.  Set excellence as the minimum standard of operation. Far too often, both on a personal and professional level, we settle for “less than” as an acceptable end point for our performance. The most successful leaders are those who keep raising the bar and tolerance level of both their performance and the performance of those they lead. Our human tendency is to be satisfied so long as we do our job well. We never should settle in and continue “business as usual.” The reality is we all possess a much higher level of ability then we give ourselves credit for having. Move the bar up a bit at every opportunity. Examine every facet of your life and your work responsibilities. Look for any opening that can enhance performance. Kaizen is the quality term for “continuous improvement”—the mindset of winners. Become “Kaizen” focused!

Closing Thoughts

Take time to reflect on the “Magic 5 tips” discussed in this article to access where you are on the success scale of life. Allocate time each day to reflect on what needs to be done and how to do the necessary tasks. Take a break at mid-day to see where you are on your personal success scale and make adjustments as needed. At the end of the day, review all your actions and what they’ve produced. If the results are less than you wanted to achieve, commit to a level of excellence tomorrow that will step up the results.

Success is nothing more than having a clear focus on what we want to do, taking action on our focus, and making adjustments along the way to stay on course. No one is devoid of opportunities to reach their potential. It takes persistence and an unwavering commitment towards personal excellence, coupled with the necessary self-discipline to grow our success.

Work with those you lead to move improvements up the excellence scale. Work on yourself to do the same. The result of such an effort pays huge dividends and brings a level of satisfaction few reach. Isn’t it time you got your share of this feeling?