Category Archives: David Waits

The Three P’s of Powerful Leadership

David WaitsBy David Waits

Leadership is not a position!

A local newspaper has a daily section titled “Progressions” allowing companies to publicly recognize employees who have been promoted to leadership positions such as general manager. The announcement is a very nice recognition for the new leader, but the promotion, in and of itself, doesn’t make the person a powerful, productive leader. The promotion does allow the new leader to exercise the roles and responsibilities of the position, but the promotion has very little to do with the leadership effectiveness of the person who received it.

The power of the position and the potential of the leader are maximized only when the leader understands and leverages their performance, presence and profitability.

1. Performance is simply what you do. Like it or not, at the end of the day, or quarter, or year (or term if you are a politician), leaders are evaluated by what they get done and get done through others. Leaders are paid to get results. They are not paid for their intentions or mere activity.

Intentions matter, results rule!

“I meant to have a discussion with the underperforming team member but I just haven’t had a chance to talk to them,” says the well-meaning leader. The question is not, “Did you talk to them?” the question is, “Did the underperforming team member’s behavior improve?” Intentions without actions create nothing. Action—having the talk with the under performer—that doesn’t produce results is simply activity not productivity. Performance is measured by results.

Aesop rightly stated, “When all is said and done, more is said than done.” Performance, measured by results, is the metric of your leadership ability.

2. Presence is who you are. You can’t be one type of person and another type of leader! Although you can try to fool people, and maybe even obtain pseudo-success for a short season, time will ultimately reveal the real you. Who you are, in the core of your being, will determine your presence. How big is your presence?

Someone who is physically large is noticed when they simply walk into a room. Former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal is over 7 feet tall, weighing in at over 300 pounds. Everywhere he goes, his physical presence is commanding.

When you enter a room, are you noticed? Are you respected? Do people want your input? Are you listened to? Are you commanding? Your presence is the key to positively and powerfully influencing people.

Remember, a title or position does not a leader make. A position can be conferred on you. When something is conferred it is placed and bestowed on you by someone else. It is recognition of a position. Your position allows you to perform the roles and functions of a leader, but it is your presence that determines your effectiveness. Presence is inferred upon you. Something inferred involves a conclusion. People are concluding, “This person has a dynamic presence about them that makes me want to follow them!”

Are you working as hard on who you are as you are working at the job you do? Your job functions are important and your ability to be highly functional in your job as a leader is directly proportional to your presence. Your presence increases as you grow as a person. When you become great at who you are, you become remarkable at what you do! Constantly invest time and money in personal growth.

3. Profitability is the value you bring to those you lead. The bottom line number reflects profitability, but it is more than that. Is your team profitable because of you?

In the arena of interaction with those you lead, are you profiting from them? Are they better—more profitable themselves—because they are around you? Do you inspire? Do you motivate? Do you create synergy?

There are many world-class athletes playing in team sports who have tremendous individual skills, yet their team fails to obtain championship status. Michael Jordan was arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. His greatness wasn’t only measured by his ability to make baskets and his incredible desire to win, but by making others better. Many of his years in the NBA he was surrounded by, at best, serviceable role players. Yet his presence made others profitable because he brought out the best in his other team members. He helped raise the entire team to a winning, championship level.

Your potential is maximized and your power exploited when you leverage:

  1. Your productivity: your effective actions, not your noble intentions.
  2. Your presence: constantly investing in yourself, stretching and growing to increase the size of your presence.
  3. Your profitability: evaluate yourself by looking to the outcome—is there profitability in your leadership in the bottom line and are people better because they have been influenced by you?

When you maximize the Three P’s—Productivity, Presence, & Profitability—it is likely you will not only show up in the “Progressions” section of your local newspaper, but also make the front page headline as well. If you are not on your newspaper’s front page, you will certainly make the headlines with the most important people in your sphere of influence—those who are following you.

David Waits, founder of Waits Consulting Group, Inc., is a highly sought after consultant, speaker and author. As a proven expert in developing powerful initiatives that revolutionize culture, David helps his clients create a thriving organizational environment that facilitates rapid growth, innovative development and on-going profitability. He has worked with clients in all 50 states, including Quest Diagnostics, General Dynamics, Major League Baseball, Walmart, Walt Disney World and numerous other world-class organizations. For more information, visit

Five Barriers to Implementing Strategic Direction

David WaitsBy David Waits

Strategy is a framework within which decisions are made, which influences the nature and direction of the business. Strategy directs organizations as they make plans, marshal resources and make day-to-day decisions. It is imperative that strategy is clear, concise and congruent. Otherwise organizations and people can be efficiently headed the wrong way. Companies lacking a clear, memorable, embraced strategy struggle with implementation, thwart tactical execution and blunt their effectiveness. Take prudence to avoid these five barriers to implementing strategic direction.

Barrier 1 – Strategy that is too lofty and non-pragmatic: Many times, the strategic direction sounds good on paper but it is way too lofty. It is not pragmatic. A direction that is not pragmatic will not move people to action. Vision is a compelling picture of a future state that inspires people to perform. Strategic direction needs to be wrapped into that vision so that it gets off of the paper, off of the posters and out into the trenches where people work. This will start the process of getting the desired results. It is the direction, not intentions, that determines your organization’s ultimate destiny.

Barrier 2 – Overly focused on immediacy: Because of the incredibly fast pace of business in today’s world, it is easy for leaders to get preoccupied with the immediate and urgent things that are in front of them and lose sight of their main outcomes and objectives. Like the story of the little boy trying to put his finger in the dike, leaders can get caught up in moving from one emergency to the next, to the next, to the next. The immediacy of the next report or the next meeting keeps leaders from making sure that they pull back and stay focused on where they want to go. A strong strategy provides the framework for effective decisions.

Barrier 3 – Doing what we like to do: The third barrier that keeps leaders from implementing strategic direction is the trap of getting wrapped up in doing the things leaders like to do instead of the things the strategic direction is calling for. Think of it this way, if the strategic direction could talk, what would it be asking to be done today? The answer to this question will determine decisions, establish proper priorities and clarify the next appropriate step to take. Leaders should only be focused on task no one else can do. If someone else can do the task, delegate it, monitor the outcomes, make appropriate corrections and celebrate progress.

Barrier 4 – Lack of congruency at the top and commitment from the middle: It is important to have buy-in from the middle. Many postulate that leadership starts at the top maintaining that what is at the top is what filters down. There is certainly truth contained in that axiom. However, if there is not buy-in at the middle level of leadership, the implementation of the direction will be thwarted and ultimately blocked. It is important to have congruence at the top, so as a senior leadership group, there is a clarion message that is common to all top leaders. Otherwise, mixed messages will be sent. When there is a commitment at the middle level with congruency from the top, the lower level of leadership will help catapult strategy into success.

Barrier 5 – Not reviewing often enough: The last barrier that impairs consistent implementation is caused simply by not revisiting the strategy consistently. The consequence of this lack of continual review results in a loss of focus, creating the calamity of operating in a dense fog. If strategic direction is not kept front and center, the forward driving force of the implementation is forfeited. Organizations and people move towards what they are focused on. Without this regular focus on strategic direction, efficient and effective implementation is impeded, if not stopped altogether.

Strategy implementation can be a long process. To implement strategic direction, first pinpoint clear messaging that is vibrant, specific and memorable. If implementation is going to be embraced and enacted, marketing your message internally to your team to facilitate buy-in from top to bottom is a critical necessity. Secondly, identify tangible milestones. Have definable indicators of the targeted results of each step of implementation and build in accountability measures for each milestone.

Thirdly, capture memories along the way to record the progress from where you started to where you are now. Many parents periodically make a mark on a chart or behind a door capturing the growth history of their children because it’s so easy to miss both the subtle and the dramatic development of each child. In the same way, keep a memory chart of steps, set-backs and victories throughout the process as a reminder of the progress you have made. Looking back at successes brings hope as you move through the challenges of the future.

David Waits, founder of Waits Consulting Group, Inc., is a highly sought after consultant, speaker and author. As a proven expert in developing powerful initiatives that revolutionize culture, David helps his clients create a thriving organizational environment that facilitates rapid growth, innovative development and on-going profitability. He has worked with clients in all 50 states, including Quest Diagnostics, General Dynamics, Major League Baseball, Walmart, Walt Disney World and numerous other world-class organizations. For more information, visit

Five Critical Mistakes That Blunt Leadership Effectiveness

David WaitsBy David Waits

Since 2000, according to numerous national surveys, less than one-third of workers in the United States are engaged in their work as measured by their involvement, enthusiasm, and commitment to their work. If you simply reflect on your most recent encounter as a consumer at your local retail store, restaurant or government agency, your own experience will more than likely validate the reality of these startling statistics.

Leaders account for as much as 70% of the variance of employee engagement. A Gallup study of 7,272 adults in the United States revealed that one in two had left their job at some point in their career to get away from a manager in order to improve overall quality of life. People don’t leave jobs; people leave people!

Effective leadership requires not only doing the right things, but also understanding what not to do. Here are five mistakes to aggressively avoid.

Critical Mistake #1 – Failing to schedule time for learning conversations: You do what you schedule. When you listen, you learn. Leaders should only be doing what no one else can do and no one can listen to your team members like you.

Schedule regular opportunities to ask clear, concise and clarifying questions to your team members and then discipline yourself to actively listen. This will provide you with vital intelligence to implement two of the main functions of a leader:

  1. Remove obstacles
  2. Provide resources

How can you know the true obstacles that are impeding success and the actual resources needed by your team if you aren’t consistently scheduling highly interactive learning conversations?

Critical Mistake #2 – Failing to consistently affirm: As a leader, are you encouraging, or are you an encourager or neither?

One of the most powerful, if not the most powerful tool to embolden, motivate and energize your team is the incredible power of affirmation. Affirming is simply catching people doing things right and TELLING them about it. Don’t just think it; express it!

The effective leader is always on the lookout for opportunities to answer the soul-felt questions in the mind of their team members, “Do I matter?” and “Does what I do around here matter?” Answer those questions by being specific about your team member’s positive actions. Always tie the positive action you observed to the beneficial business outcome.

Being encouraging is something that you do, but being an encourager is something you are. If you are an encourager, then affirmations will emanate from your lips regularly.

Critical Mistake #3 – Misdiagnosing: When you visit the doctor, the doctor always asks a succession of questions, and many times follows-up with a battery of tests before ever prescribing any action design to remedy an illness. Why? For the safety of the patient and for the critical business benefit of avoiding a malpractice lawsuit! The exception to this would be in an emergency situation where time is of the essence.

If you are always making decisions in business as if you live in the Emergency Room, then the health of your business is going to be in a constant state of trauma. A proper diagnosis of the “ailments” of your business is required to make the decisions necessary to have a healthy and prosperous business. This necessitates gathering appropriate and accurate information, much of which can be ascertained by avoiding Mistake #1, before randomly moving ahead with activity, which might or might not produce the desired results.

Many business owners or executives seek to bring in outside help to “treat” a problem that has been improperly, inadequately, or incorrectly diagnosed. Before assistance is formally acquired, they should answer the question: “What do you want to accomplish?” With this simple question clarified, a decision can be made on what is the fastest and the most effective way to achieve the desired outcome.

Critical Mistake #4 – Wearing the wrong hat: Vision caster. Trainer. Monitor. Cheerleader. Fixer. Disciplinarian. Which hat do you wear?

All of them and more!

This dilemma is further augmented by the maturity, or immaturity as the case may be, of your team. The challenge is not only in knowing what hat you are to wear, but it’s also critical to wear the right hat at the right time.

If your team is newly formed, it’s important to be participatory in your leadership style regardless of the hat you are wearing. As your team develops and establishes appropriate parameters, your style shifts to a hands-on leader. You then can transition to a benevolent dictator as you ensure the appropriate focused action of your team. When your team matures and is highly functioning, your style shifts to free rein leadership as you equip the team to be self-sustaining.

Your style shifts. Your hats change. Your leadership flexibility is regularly challenged.

Change hats as often as the fluidity of circumstances dictates and be cognizant of the leadership style required based upon the developmental maturity of your team.

Critical Mistake #5 – Not taking responsibility: There are things you cannot control. Stop wasting time and precious emotional energy on these things.

There are things you can influence. Stop being passive on the things you can influence.

There are things you can control. Stop making excuses for the things you can control. Get busy and act!

Take responsibility for your own actions, attitudes and words. Leverage your influence as a leader. Lead by example.

Avoid these five common critical mistakes and leverage your powerful positive influence as a leader. As you do, instead of people withdrawing, disengaging or leaving, they will passionately follow you. You are the most important element of the success of your team.

Remember: your people want you to lead!

David Waits, founder of Waits Consulting Group, Inc., is a highly sought after consultant, speaker and author. As a proven expert in developing powerful initiatives that revolutionize culture, David helps his clients create a thriving organizational environment that facilitates rapid growth, innovative development and on-going profitability. He has worked with clients in all 50 states, including Quest Diagnostics, General Dynamics, Major League Baseball, Walmart, Walt Disney World and numerous other world-class organizations. For more information, visit