Category Archives: Nathan Jamail

Don’t Confuse Serving Up with Sucking Up

By Nathan JamailNathan Jamail

“I don’t suck up; I don’t care who the person is or what their title is.” Although this statement may be true, that no one should really ever kiss up to higher levels, the mindset of the person saying it is flawed. Serving up is what great professionals and leaders do to accommodate their clients, organizations and coworkers. Don’t let those unwilling to serve change your personal mission of serving others.

The Issue: One reason someone may make this statement is because they didn’t achieve some desired outcome. For example, you may recognize a familiar comment, “The only reason he got the job is because he’s a “Yes Man.” To put it bluntly and broadly: no one likes a kiss up, not even those that are being kissed up to. In most cases, however, it’s not “Yes Man” behavior that creates a problem—it’s the lack of understanding of the difference between sucking up and serving up. To forge a path toward career success, one must serve up, and do it with great humility and a great desire to achieve.

The Confusion: The quintessential “kiss up” is someone who uses flattery to win someone over. This behavior is visible from miles away and those who use it very rarely achieve long-term success, mainly because it demonstrates a frightening lack of self-awareness. These actions are born out of manipulation and arrogance which lack genuine intent—the goal of sucking up is entirely self-serving.

Contrarily, serving up is an act of accommodation that stems from the desire to provide a sterling level of service. It is the idea that when you truly make yourself an asset to those around you, whether it’s a client, your immediate superior or a coworker, you move toward success together.

Serving up – “The Story”: A regional manager with a large finance firm was attending his company’s annual conference. There were hundreds of attendees from all across the country—including some of the corporate heavyweights slated to deliver presentations.

During this event, one of the company VPs was delivering a speech and he started having some problems with his microphone. Within seconds his direct report jumped up out of his seat in the back of the room, ran to the AV team and began searching for a solution to get the Vice President a new mic so he could continue to focus on his speech. Right at that time one of the regional manager’s peers leaned in and whispered, “Look at that lackey, running off to fetch another microphone.” He continued his trash talking, “Man, if my VP’s mic does not work, he can find another one on his own; it’s not my responsibility to follow behind him.”

He did not understand the difference between sucking up and serving up.

Consequently, the regional manager that jumped up and served his boss has grown his career tremendously; he has started his own company, is achieving great success and is now making three times the annual income he was 15 years ago—and his career is continuing to grow. His peer, on the other hand, changed bosses several times over the course of the next few years. His career trajectory plateaued, but in spite of his lack of upward momentum he has continued to complain about others and insist he deserves more. Sadly this peer, like most bitter professionals, probably has all the skill and knowledge needed to accomplish great things, but lacks the desire and humility to serve up to success.

The Lesson: If you are in a situation where you’re being pegged as a “Yes Man” or a “kiss up,” ask yourself this, “Am I sucking up or serving up? Are my words and actions coming from a genuine place or are they insincere?” If you are serving up—which means working hard and pleasing those in your life that matter—keep doing it. Know that those who would call you a “suck up” or a “Yes Man” are just jealous (and most likely bitter) of how you help those around you. Be gracious and be respectful to those in authority positions, not from a position of weakness, rather in a position of power, so that one day when you’re in that power position the people that follow you will have the same respect for you.

In business today, no matter if you work for a major corporation or you own your own small consulting firm, you’re paid to help people and the more people you help the more success you will achieve. So serve and help those you call your boss, customer or peer, and no matter your current title or position, it will not be your last as you grow and flourish. Servants are leaders that understand their value and the humility to live it.

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group, and author of the best-selling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director, life insurance sales professional and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. Nathan has worked with thousands of leaders in creating a coaching culture. Get your copy of Nathan Jamail’s most recent book released by Penguin Publishers, “The Leadership Playbook” at www.NathanJamail.com.

What Success Looks Like: A State of Mind vs. a Destination

By Nathan JamailNathan Jamail

Success can be defined in a number of ways. If you look up the definition you will several that you may agree with; the accomplishment of one’s goals, the attainment of wealth, position, honors or achieving your goals. All of these definitions are correct—and none of them are. When it comes to success, there isn’t a set in stone definition because of two reasons:

  • It depends on whom you ask
  • It is ever changing

In order to ‘obtain’ success, you need to know what success looks like for you. Without having your personal definition of success, how do you know what to shoot for? When you fail to clearly define success, all goals and activities remain fuzzy and unclear—making them more difficult and in some cases impossible to achieve.

John Langcuster, a Vice President with a Fortune 500 insurance company who leads hundreds of people in daily operations, feels that “Success is achieved by having a great leader. One who knows how to recruit, practice on a regular basis, execute and most importantly achieve results. Both the leader and team rely on a “teamwork” approach with a very strong belief system that a goal can be achieved. Also, consistent behavior breeds success.”

Ken Smith, Vice President with Georgia Pacific, states that “Success in the professional world is when you build a winning culture. Without having the right culture, strategies break down or lose every time. As I once heard, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

If the question, “What does success look like?” were posed to you, right now, what would your answer be? Would it look like a cookie-cutter definition from a dictionary? Would it look similar to these successful executives? What factors contribute to your answer? Work? Family? Personal? All of the above?

One way to look at success is to wake up in the morning feeling inspired and excited and to go to bed feeling content and grateful. Your definition of success might not change daily, but the sense of achieving success can change as fast as the weather in Texas. A bad day, a good morning or a great phone call can take you from one side of success to the other. With that being said, much like happiness, success is a state of mind more than a destination. It may look different for many people and may differ in achievement based on personal or business definition, but to achieve your desired success there are 3 key principals that you must implement.

1. Cultural Laws:  Like Ken Smith says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

A person must have cultural or personal laws that support their goals. The word law is important because we must view all behaviors and beliefs that contradict our definition of success as breaking the law. The greatest enemy of achieving success is allowing those that don’t agree or support that belief to break the cultural laws. Many times these infractions are small in action and have a very limited immediate consequence, but make no mistake: although the consequences are not immediate, they are immense and can be devastating to the achievement of success.

2. A clear understanding of success:There are two key aspects of achieving success. First, a person must be able to understand their vision of success so they can share it with others to inspire other like-minded individuals to stay the course. Once it is visualized or communicated, a game plan must be implemented and given to everyone involved that contains key activities with measurable results. This is the difference from making a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and a dedicated decision to live a more active and healthier life. One is a decision that has commitments, beliefs and key actions the other is an empty goal that is based purely on a short term desire.

3. A desire and never-ending commitment to achieve it: The majority of society desires success, but very few are willing to do what it takes. Achieving great success in life or business will require great sacrifice, constant focus, humility to learn and confidence to challenge. In many cases a sense of blind optimism is required when dealing with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. No matter if one’s success is being a great husband or wife, or boss or employee it requires great sacrifice and a selfless mindset. Achieving success is realized when a group of people are so committed and passionate about achieving their goals that no obstacle or situation can stop them. No matter what, win or lose, they stay committed to achieving their defined success. They have the desire that can outlast any resistance.

Success can be described as when a person’s purpose is aligned with their actions. In business as in life, one must remain positive while in search of success, and understand that once one level of success is reached, it is not the end, rather is the starting point for the next great achievement. At the end of the day, success is what one person makes it–what one believes. The level of achieving that success is determined by what one does to earn it. No matter the definition, everyone can agree that “success is earned and not given!”

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group, and author of the best-selling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director, life insurance sales professional and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. Nathan has worked with thousands of leaders in creating a coaching culture. Get your copy of Nathan Jamail’s most recent book released by Penguin Publishers, “The Leadership Playbook” at www.NathanJamail.com.

Three Ways to Approach Life: Only One of Them is The Winning Way

By Nathan JamailNathan Jamail

Business executives have coaches and mentors who help them get better. Sometimes they don’t like what they are told, but after conversations settle in, they might actually hear what it is that the coach is saying. At the heart of every conversation is usually this: how can one be more successful and happy? The answer lies within each person, and that is not just whimsical talk. It is about their perspective and their priorities.

Recently on Shark Tank, one of the Sharks said something very powerful: “You can do something because you can do it. Or you can do something because you have to do it. OR you can do something because you get to do it.” Here is a question for you: If you were asked which of these three “descriptions” describes how you feel about your job, which one would you select? Do you do a job because you can? Because you have the skill and are pretty good at it, so why not? Or, do you do a job because you have no ‘choice’? Because you fell into it and now make a certain living that you “can’t” go without? Or, do you do something because it is exciting to you? Because, even though you don’t love everything about it, you are grateful and motivated by the overall aspect of what you get to do? Can you see which description will yield more results in your professional and personal life? What does it really look like when you are doing something because you get to do it?

It looks like work. It looks like play. It is called plork (pronounced “plerk” – yes this is made up). There are executives, business owners and employees that have to get up at 3:30am, after a long night of being a parent, and yet, are pumped when the alarm goes off. No hitting snooze. No grumbling. Are they tired? Yes. But they still love getting to work. Do they love every aspect of their job? Not really. There are difficult situations to be tackled, stressful decisions to be made, and times they wish they were at home instead of the office. However, through all of this, there is always, always, an immense feeling of gratitude that they get to do what they love. That no matter, through whatever obstacle is faced or mistake made, they are excited about the opportunities for them now and in the future.

Whether you sell office pens, whether you do book keeping, whether you make hospital beds, or whether you own several large corporations – are you grateful for what you get to do?

It’s contagious. When you meet someone, and are asked “How are you?” what is your response? Your response tells a lot about what kind of attitude you have in general about life. There are the, “Can’t complain” responses; this person could probably be described as someone who can do what they do and has no desire to change things. Another kind of response is, “I have had worst day,” or “Could be better.” This person could probably be described as someone who has to do what they do and likes to complain about it. Another response is, “I am living the dream!” This is the person who either already gets to do what they love, or has the potential to. They didn’t even say if it was a good dream! Even bigger than the words used is the energy that is given.

When you meet someone, what energy are you spreading? Is it positive?

It looks like success. Success can be described many ways. Some may say it is when you make X amount of dollars. Or, it may be when you own a certain house, a certain car…you get the idea. There is nothing wrong with this idea of success necessarily, but when it comes to being happy, it isn’t always the material things that will get you there. Before you can say you are successful, you have to know what that means to you.

Knowing what your priorities are, and then moving toward them every day is what success can also look like. Success is never really attained and then done. It is something you always strive for and experience every day, in both small and big ways.

What does success look like to you? The next time someone asks about what you do, pause and think about your response. Think about your gratitude level. Think about what kind of attitude you are going to spread. Think about your priorities for today, and for your future.

Nathan Jamail, president of Jamail Development Group, and author of the bestselling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. Nathan has worked with thousands of leaders and sales professionals to create winning cultures. Find out more at www.nathanjamail.com.

Team Accountability: Harsh or Helpful?

By Nathan JamailNathan Jamail

Every turn of the calendar people make New Year’s resolutions. Every election politicians say that the government leaders need to be held accountable. And every year organizations tell their leaders, “We need to hold our people to their words and actions.” Yet—just like New Year’s resolutions—these scenarios for accountability fall drastically short, as the mirror of accountability is often blurry with ego.

This means that as leaders we see ourselves as actually holding our people accountable and feel that it’s the others that are failing or not following through. Many leaders have a case of accountability myopia—they see themselves as doing a sterling job, and the truth is they are most likely falling short of their own expectations.

So, how does a leader become better at holding their team members accountable? The answer is to first understand why doing so is so important, which can help with the painstaking process of implementing an accountability practice. In business—just like in life—if a person believes in the reasons for the fight, they will fight!

Harsh or Helpful? In businesses, leaders can sometimes use the excuse of wanting to maintain a cordial and non-confrontational relationship, so they may be hesitant to hold a team member accountable. Reluctance to hold an employee accountable has a negative organizational impact. From the efforts of religious leaders to their congregations to sports coaches to their teams, there are myriad examples in daily life of promoting a culture of accountability.

When you think about it, many great people in this world can point back to a person in their life that pushed them more than anyone else—the one who held their feet to the fire and provided “tough love” motivation that may have appeared harsh—but at the end of the day they made them who they are today. When you think of all of these examples, holding an employee or team member accountable is not malicious, it is an incredibly helpful act. As a leader we must care so much that we are willing to go through the extra pain and work to hold our employee’s accountable.

Lack of Accountability Leads to Failure: People often wonder why New Year’s resolutions fail; they fail because after the initial excitement of enacting personal change wears off, there is no framework for accountability. The same can be said for why businesses don’t hit their goals or reach their full potential. If holding a person accountable to their New Year’s resolution encourages growth, increases their confidence and positions them for success, the same should be done at work. When great leaders become the person committed to making their employees better versus just more tenured, they start to become a great coach-of a winning team.

Actions to become better at holding your team accountable:
The “What” – “The best practice”
The “Why”– “So we understand it, and believe it”
The “How” – “So we know how to do it and understand the only thing stopping us are excuses”

What: Make it public; let the team know so you as the leader are held accountable as well.
Why: When we publicly commit to something we are more likely to stick to it.
How: Write down your expectations for the team, and write down what they can expect from you. Everybody must understand your expectations, so the team knows what is expected from them and that they are going to be held accountable. The expectations delivered to your direct-reports and your superiors should highlight an expectation that they are to hold you accountable to holding others accountable. Trust that those that really care will let you know when you are not doing something you are supposed to be.

What: Write your expectations down and post them on your wall for you to see every day.
Why: It is really easy to get busy and caught up in the daily grind of the job and slip-up or forget. It is an “Out of sight out of mind” thing, especially when it is something as difficult as holding people accountable.
How: Write it down and post it somewhere where you can see it every day, make it into a poster, use post it notes, whatever it takes.

What: Make accountability a priority as if your career depended on it (because it does)!
Why: If we feel something is important we will do it. The only reason we don’t do something or forget is because we don’t assign importance to it.
How: Like most coaching activities in business, there is no immediate consequence to not holding team members accountable, but there is immediate pain or work. So it is really easy to let the “urgent” but not important things get in the way doing what is really important. Make companywide accountability an urgent task by understanding that without it there can be companywide consequences—some you may not see until it’s too late.

At the end of the day, holding employees accountable is not a complicated issue or even an issue that is up for debate. Promoting an environment of accountability is a choice that leaders have to make each and every day. When accountability becomes a core principle, it is no longer a decision—becomes the law, and it is a law that creates successful actions.

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group, and author of the best-selling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director, life insurance sales professional and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. Nathan has worked with thousands of leaders in creating a coaching culture. Get your copy of Nathan Jamail’s most recent book released by Penguin Publishers, “The Leadership Playbook” at www.NathanJamail.com.

The Most Desired Skills of the Future: Three Practices to Communicate, Engage and Influence People

By Nathan JamailNathan Jamail

How many parents have a toddler that can work an iPhone or iPad better than they can? What about the parents of teenage kids or young adults that cannot communicate except through texting, email or social media? With technology constantly evolving, technical skills and know-how will be the most common skills among the working and business public—but the ability to communicate face to face will always be one of the most important aspects of business.

While younger generations preparing to enter the workforce should keep up with technology to remain relevant in today’s economy, they should also continue to practice and focus on perfecting their soft skills—communication, interpersonal interaction, influence and personal effectiveness in a social and business setting. These abilities are the great differentiator in business of the future.

In order to develop these relevant skills and to create the best team today and in the future, there are three things a leader can do. First: learn how to be a coach to your players; this, most likely, is not what your manager did for you. Second: identify what you want to coach. Third: commit and implement a true practice program that requires the leader to participate.

Learn to coach: The word “coaching” is used in business today as much as the word “culture”, but in the same way that “culture” is used in most organizations, it is merely a word with very little impact or “law”. Leaders tell their managers to coach, but they never teach them how to coach. Many managers may say, “Hire good people and then just let them do their jobs.” This strategy will suffice if a leader is content with never making their employees better.

In professional sports a coach drafts the best player they can find and they commit everyday of their professional life to making them better. In business it is the leader’s job to hire great people and make them better. The key to start coaching is to change the mindset from managing to coaching. To accomplish this, the leader’s actions must change from a reactive approach—of getting involved when needed—to a proactive approach of getting involved before they are needed in order to prepare the employee to win.

What to coach: A very important factor in coaching is understanding what to coach. Leaders need to stop focusing on just product and industry knowledge and begin to focus on perfecting the soft skills like communication, personal interaction, body language, voice inflection and the transfer of positive energy. Envision what you consider great customer service and bad customer service, or what separates a top performer and a bottom performer. The most adept leaders have harnessed face-to-face communication. In baseball’s World Series, the greatest players are still practicing the fundamentals, such as throwing and catching the ball. In business we must do the same, and practice repeatedly throughout the duration of a career. This includes the big and small parts (which really equal the big parts).

Implement a practice program: When one thinks of a practice program, they may instantly feel overwhelmed and attempt to outsource it. This is a big mistake as leaders of an organization need to be a part of their practice program—and it is not nearly as overwhelming as one might think once it is kicked off. Team engagement and immediate success and results will snowball this into full blown commitment on everyone’s part, making it even easier and more effective. The hardest part? Getting it started and staying committed.

A first and simple step is to implement weekly practice sessions that the leader mandates and runs. Just like if a parent wants to coach little league sports, the key is they must make the team practice during the week, so they win on the weekends. In fact, similar to little league sports, the more serious the competition and priorities placed on winning, the more practices take place. In business everything is serious and competitive when it comes to success and winning, because winning matters. Learning to practice is almost as hard as learning any new skill. It will feel awkward, redundant, uncomfortable and hard at times, but just like parents tell their kids, “If you want to be the best and win, then you have to practice.”

While social media and a litany of gadgetry have streamlined our ability to connect and interact, there will never be a substitute for stout communication skills. Focusing on these time-honored skills and building better teams in business follows the same principals of raising better kids—yet it can prove more difficult because of the lack of the familial connection that makes us willing dedicate our time and sacrifice for our children. It requires a commitment and an involvement that can be difficult for many people, and it also requires conflict and asks the leader to not always be the most popular person. Remember, great coaches are coaches, not buddies; they should be respected by all team members and should be focused on making everyone—individually and collectively—better, more prepared and more successful—today and tomorrow.

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group, and author of the best-selling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director, life insurance sales professional and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. Nathan has worked with thousands of leaders in creating a coaching culture. Get your copy of Nathan Jamail’s most recent book released by Penguin Publishers, “The Leadership Playbook” at www.NathanJamail.com.