Tag Archives: leadership

Bolster Your Company’s Culture with 7 Skillsets of No Fail Trust

By Jason O. Harris

Jason Harris-your people

Each day you walk into your office, are you giving consideration to what type of culture you are cultivating? Are you and your team of leaders aware that your actions will dictate whether you are cultivating a culture of compliance or culture of connection, commitment, and community?

Daily, you are faced with important decisions, and how you handle those decisions as well as how you interact with your team, will dictate the culture. Your organization’s culture will ultimately determine what kind of experience your customers and clients will have.

If you were to be placed at the helm of a multimillion-dollar Air Force cargo jet or a commercial airliner, under stress and other challenges, there is an absolute necessity for cohesiveness, communication, and commitment in order to be the high-performance team required to operate these jets. You already have a great team, but is your team ready to handle their job along with the stress of combat? This is where it is critical to have the right skill sets that will enable you and your team to Trust the Training, Trust the Process and Trust the People

In order to cultivate cohesiveness, connection, and commitment in these fast-paced, high-performance teams, there are seven critical skill sets that are always present and encouraged.

If you or your organization are ready to soar to new heights, take a look at the seven skill sets and decide how you can apply personally and within your organization.   

1. Professional Knowledge 

Professional knowledge is critical and is the foundation to any high-performance individual and team.  When your people are equipped with the professional knowledge essential to their jobs, it makes it easier to empower them and trust them to make decisions when things get challenging. Think about a professional pilot and consider how knowledgeable you want them to be. Would you consider your team trained to have that level of knowledge, to execute their job when hundreds of lives are on the line?

2. Situational Awareness 

Situational Awareness (or SA) is the ability to understand and comprehend environmental elements, events, and possible scenarios as it applies to time, space, and the collective comprehension of their possible interpretation. There are multiple types of SA to include individual, team, and organizational SA. In order to make the right decisions at the right time, it is critical that SA be present. SA has been cited as being fundamental to successful decision making in aviation, healthcare, emergency response, and many other high-stress environments. The lack of SA, according to scholarly documents, has been a driving factor in accidents attributed to human error. In order to keep your operation performing at its best and being positioned for continued improvement, your people need to have collective SA for any threats that might harm the operations. What kind of training has been put in place that helps to cultivate and reinforce this skill set?

3. Assertiveness 

Assertiveness is defined as confident, forceful, self-assured behavior. Further, assertiveness is being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. When it is time to make business decisions and the fate of your organization is on the line, like flying a commercial airliner with hundreds of passengers on board, it is imperative that your people are trained, ready and willing to speak up and assert their voice to avert a disaster. When the success of your organization is on the line, your people need to be empowered to speak up and assert themselves, appropriately, to ensure the operation continues smoothly and, in many cases, in order for the operation to improve. Can your people trust that the leadership team will be ready to listen and acknowledge when they speak up and assert themselves for the greater good of the organization?

Can your people trust that the leadership team will be ready to listen and acknowledge when they speak up? Click To Tweet

4. Decision-Making

Decision-making is the process and action of making choices, especially important choices, by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternative possibilities. When you look at decision-making and its application to your environment and how it relates to high-performance teams, you need to be ready and able to make important and significant decisions. Sometimes these decisions will have to be made in very short order, without supervision. In order to make these time-sensitive decisions, your people will need to be empowered, knowing that they are prepared and trusted to make decisions that can be very critical to the operation and success of the organization. Consider what you can do to equip, prepare, and empower your people to make the right decision, in a moment’s notice, at the right time.

5. Communication

Communication is defined at the exchange of information or news. When it’s crunch time and critical decisions need to be made, whether in flight at 35,000 feet in the air flying at 600 mph or when a major deal is on the table for your organization, communication is absolutely essential. When it’s time to make decisions, given the time-critical scenario, you want, need and expect your people to communicate. Have your people been empowered and trusted to communicate the critical information at the right time and right place?

6. Leadership

Leadership is defined as the act of leading a group of people or an organization. Every organization, especially high performing organizations, need true and authentic leadership. They need leadership that is effective at all levels of execution. Leadership in your team and organization has to be further defined as the people that influence others to accomplish the team and organizational objectives in a manner that makes the team more cohesive and more committed to each other, the mission at hand, and the organization.

7. Adaptability 

Adaptability means being able to adjust to new conditions. When your organization or team is moving at the speed of success, it is imperative that members are adaptable. The organization has to empower its people to be ready and prepared to adapt to many different scenarios. When flying commercial jets across the world, there is likely to be some turbulence and there is likely to be some weather formations along the route. In order to get to the intended destination safely, the crew has to be adaptable to go over, under, and around the turbulence and thunderstorms. Being adaptable can only happen when the people have been empowered.

The next time you walk into your office, you should be clear on the culture you are cultivating!  The seven skillsets laid out will support the cultivation of a culture of connection, commitment, and community. When you start to implement these seven skills sets your team will begin to soar to new heights, you and your team will begin to Trust the Training, Trust the Process and Trust the People!

Jason O. Harris is a leadership and trust speaker, consultant, and certified character coach. As a decorated combat veteran, Jason brings unique perspectives gained from his battlefield experience to your organization. Jason’s No Fail Trust™ methodology was crafted from his own harrowing, life-altering experiences, and conveys the importance of cross-generational communication and mutual trust. Jason enjoys working with organizations and leaders that are no longer willing to settle for cultures of compliance and are ready to build and cultivate cultures of commitment. For more information on Jason O. Harris, please visit www.JasonOHarris.com.

Casting Your Confidence Net

Four Strategies to Manage Self-Doubt

By Dr. David Chinsky

confidence net

Even when leaders are clear about where they want to take their teams, pushback from colleagues, combined with self-doubts, can cause them to become paralyzed at the point of action. Clarity without confidence is an ineffective formula for success.

All leaders are subject to resisters and critics—some external and some internal. Let’s look at some examples of external pushback that some of the world’s biggest innovators needed to overcome to achieve their dreams.

When Akio Morita, then chairman of Sony, proposed manufacturing a tape player that didn’t record, he was met with a tremendous amount of resistance. His critics questioned why someone would purchase a recorder that didn’t record. Sony was known for tape recorders that recorded and played.

Despite the heavy criticism, Morita pushed ahead, resulting in the Sony Walkman, a product that met with universal acclaim and ended up being a precursor to the iPod and other mp3 players that came later. Had it not been for Morita’s persistence in the face of opposition, who knows if we would have seen the iPod as early as we did.

Another example of a leader with a vision was Fred Smith, founder of FedEx. When Smith was selling his idea of delivering packages “absolutely, positively overnight”, critics were quick to point out that major airlines would already be doing this if there was a market for this service. We all know the phenomenal success of FedEx, and its several competitors that emerged later, and this success is due largely to the willingness of Smith to go against the mainstream thinking of the time that this was not likely to be a profitable venture.

Leaders, at times, need to take leaps of faith, particularly when they have thought through their ideas and believe passionately in what they are pursuing. There will always be naysayers, and when we vest too much authority in their claims, we risk missing out on the tangible benefits that result when decisive actions are pursued despite the strong pushback that pioneers often confront.

While external pushback can be powerful, it is often your own self-doubt that prevents you from moving forward. You may have noticed that the bolder your vision is, and the bigger your plans are, the louder these inner critics often become. In reality, the presence of these saboteurs often serves as confirmation that you are not playing small.

Some of the common “inner voices” we hear, if we are honest with ourselves, include:

“You Don’t Know What You’re Doing”

“You’re Not Up to This”

“You Won’t Succeed”

“You’ll Look Like a Fool”

“No one Will Support You”

These self-doubts are normal and come with the territory of leading others into the future. Instead of focusing on eliminating these doubts, a better approach is to simply manage them. Here are four strategies that you will find helpful in managing self-doubt:

  • Be aware of negative self-talk, and get good at recognizing it as distinct from your true intent. Recognize these voices as “normal” for successful people taking on big projects.
  • Consider alternative perspectives or different ways of looking at the same situation. Acknowledge and act on your power to choose how you will think. If you are thinking, “I will fail at this”, consider how the alternative “I will succeed at this”, might cause you to choose a different path. Often, we can’t know whether we will succeed or fail before trying. Henry Ford was correct when he said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
  • Ignore your self-doubts once they have been exposed for the imposters they are.
  • Don’t panic, and know that everything can look like a failure in the middle.

Keeping our doubts in check will naturally contribute to greater confidence. A way to reinforce that confidence is to construct a Confidence Net comprising a repertoire of positive habits that buffer you from the onslaught of both external and internal pushbacks. These habits, when performed consistently, feed our confidence, and provide us with the ability to remain focused on our plans, despite the noise all around us.

When asked what personal habits contribute to greater confidence, many leaders point to regular exercise, daily prayer or meditation, positive affirmations and even a power outfit.

Like safety nets, designed as insurance to help people through life’s shocks and stresses, such as those created by illness, unemployment or job displacement, a Confidence Net is your very own personal structure to mitigate the effect, and lower the volume, of your inner voices or self-doubts.

Dr. David Chinsky is the Founder of the Institute for Leadership Fitness, a celebrated speaker, and author of The Fit Leader’s Companion: A Down-to-Earth Guide for Sustainable Leadership Success. After spending nearly twenty years in executive leadership positions at the Ford Motor Company, Nestle and Thomson Reuters, he now focuses on preparing leaders to achieve their highest level of professional effectiveness and leadership fitness. For more information on Dr. David Chinsky, please visit: www.FitLeadersAcademy.com.

The Top 6 Leadership Competencies Everyone Should Know & Grow

By Dr. Steve Yacovelli

If you turn to most organizations—including your own—you’ll likely be able to list out the “core values” that anyone within the workplace should embody. Look in the break room, on the annual performance appraisal, or maybe on some cool tchotchke given out at an annual workplace event; you’ll see things like “integrity,” “teamwork,” and “customer focus” listed. This is the social contract that anyone working for that organization should abide by.
Regardless of what your organizational values are, it’s showing time again—especially in today’s modern workplace—that Thehave an awesome handle on most of them.

“But I’m Not a Leader!”

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute: you say ‘leader,’ but I’m not a leader.” Shenanigans! A “leader” really is anyone who needs to influence and, well, lead within the organization. That could be a department head leading a corporate function, a project manager leading a team to accomplish a goal, an individual contributor with no formal leadership authority but still needs to get their stuff done—everyone within today’s workplace is indeed a leader one way or another.

In short: if you’re in a work situation where you need to interact with co-workers, bosses, direct reports, or customers, then guess what, friend? Congrats … you’re a leader!

Why These Six Competencies?

There’s been a lot conversation about what are “the right” competencies that someone serious about their own leadership development should focus on. But when you look at the field, the latest books on the topic, and what experts “out there” are focusing their energy, it’s really these six:

  • Being Authentic
  • Having Leadership Courage
  • Leveraging Empathy
  • Using Inclusive Communication
  • Building Relationships
  • Shaping Culture

What’s interesting about the six areas is that they are very intertwined. For example: being your authentic self as a leader requires having courage; building relationships requires effective communication skills, etc. So, while we’re looking at these six leadership competencies one at a time, they really wonderfully interconnect to make up the whole leadership you.

Let’s explore these Top Six.

1. Being Authentic

A smart leader is one who’s authentic: they conduct business as their true selves (and not just a company “talking head”), they are truthful, and have self-awareness of their skills and abilities; they know what they bring to the table as well as where they lack competence. Nothing erodes trust (your ultimate goal as a leader) by being insincere and fake. Authentic leaders are genuine.

2. Having Leadership Courage

Leadership courage isn’t that action hero kind of courage, but it’s being brave enough to do the right thing, even if it’s against the majority (or your bosses or customers). Having courage allows you to not get stuck in a rut, but to try new things, be innovative, have those more challenging conversations, ask “why are we doing it this way?” and be able to speak up and put yourself out there.

3. Leveraging Empathy

A leader who leverages empathy puts themselves in other people’s shoes. They think about situations from not just their own position but that of the other person. Smart leaders know that emotions and logic both play a part in the modern workplace, and they are open to listening and learning about the context of others within their team.

Effective communication leading to leadership success. Click To Tweet

4. Inclusive Communication

So much can be said about effective communication leading to leadership success, but let’s focus on just one aspect: effective listening. Smart leaders who engage in effective listening show respect and that they are paying attention to the speaker. Leveraging effective listening allows team members to not just be heard but feel that you as the leader are present and paying attention. As the saying goes you do have two ears and one mouth for a reason—you should be listening twice as much as you speak.

5. Building Relationships

Psst: Here’s a big, giant, crazy secret: building relationships leads to leadership success. It’s not to say the other leadership competencies aren’t important, but if you focus on building relationships using some of the other competencies here (like effective communication and being authentic), you can accomplish anything. Work gets done when you leverage your relationships (and doing so builds trust … there’s that “t” word again).

6. Shaping Culture

As a smart leader, you’ll want to shape and influence your organizational culture for the better (this is sometimes called “change management”). How can you do this? Through ensuring the six parts of a true change management program are in place:

  • mobilize an active and visible executive sponsor (that could be you!)
  • dedicate someone(s) to manage the change process
  • apply a structured approach and process to the change
  • engage with team members and encourage their participation, communicate frequently and openly
  • integrate and engage with effective project management best practices.

Closing

Being a smart and effective leader isn’t easy, and there’s so much you can do to either start or continue to grow as a leader. But, by focusing on these six competencies as a starting point, you will not only “amp up” your own leadership effectiveness, but you’ll also improve the performance of those around you and your organization. And—added bonus—that makes the workplace just a little more enjoyable for everyone. Now that you know, go grow.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli (“The Gay Leadership Dude”) is Owner & Principal of TopDog Learning Group, LLC, a learning and development, leadership, change management, and diversity and consulting firm based in Orlando, FL, USA, with affiliates across the globe. With over twenty-five years’ experience, Steve is a rare breed that understands the power of using academic theory and applying it to the “real” world for better results. His latest book, Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of their Jungle is available June 2019. www.topdoglearning.biz.

10 Commandments for the Inspirational Leader: The Foundation of Business Solutions

By Michele Wierzgac, MSEd

Michele-your personal brand

There are so many theories in leadership ranging from vision to self-awareness to service. The simplest way to develop your leadership skills is to have a work ethic mixed with a solid foundation of core values.

Inspirational leaders have commandments they work and live by. Commandments, or guidelines, lay the critical foundation for the development of leadership and business solutions.

All of you have your own commandments that you work and live by. These Ten Commandments will work as a guidebook to inspire your staff, increase workplace morale, and lay the foundation for a successful company.

1. Be truthful

Any leader aspiring to greatness must do two things all the time—listen and tell the truth. Inspirational leaders own up to their mistakes and correct them as soon as possible. Do not blame others for your error. And when someone comes up with a brilliant idea, give credit where credit is due. Do not take credit for the idea. You will be respected by your team.

2. Be consistent

Leaders are always performing like an actor on a stage. You must consistently and authentically act out your part in front of your audiences. You must lead with high energy, all day, every day. You must protect your personal brand.

3.Be empathetic

To start using empathy more effectively, put aside your viewpoint, and try to see things from the other person’s point of view. Then validate the other person’s perspective and examine your own attitude. Perhaps you are more concerned with being right rather than finding a solution or accepting others as they are. Listen with your heart to determine what the other person feels.

4.Be generous

Business and personal relationships are everything. Every relationship needs to be a two-way street. However, before a relationship can be formed, you need to give with zero expectation of receiving anything.

5. Be strong

Inspirational leaders bring a light to someone’s life. You become the message of hope and encouragement to your staff. Encouragement comes from focusing on the strength of another person to drive their motivation and perform at a higher level which adds value to the organization and your personal brand.

6.Be articulate

Effective leaders put words together based on the thoughts and needs of others. You must create the whole story out of words you have collected. Inspirational leaders are able to articulate and clarify what many of us have been thinking on the subject for a long time. Inspirational leaders seek and inspire excellence, not perfectionism. Go out there and learn so that you can return to your team members and inspire a culture of learning and accountability.

7. Be approachable

Are you accessible? Do you have appropriate body language? How you appear to others is key to being an inspirational leader. Some people have a fear of authority, but it is your responsibility to remove the barriers and establish an environment of trust. By using proper verbal communication and listening skills, you will become much more approachable and inspirational. You are in control of how approachable you are.

Your name can open and close doors for you. Guarding your personal brand needs to be a priority. Click To Tweet

8. Be a brand champion

If you are passionate about a common interest, you create a very attractive personal style of interaction, and inspire your team to become involved and take an interest in you. They become a brand champion, a supporter, and a cheerleader of sorts for you. In return, you become a brand champion for them. Because we share a bond, we naturally support one another no matter the situation because of our passion. Remember, passionate people are attuned to the five senses, taste, touch, scent, sound, and sight. Passion for a common purpose brings people and ignites warmth.

9. Be a genuine spirit

Talk to people—listen to what they have to say and what they actually mean. Sometimes those two can be completely different things. There is a beautiful story in everyone, so listen intently with an open mind; try to add value to the conversation wherever you can. Everyone has a gift—bring the best out of everyone. Among many other lessons of the heart, Leo Buscaglia reminds us “love is open arms. If you close your arms about love you will find that you are left holding only yourself.” Remember, some people are unreasonable and self-centered….love them anyway. Inspire them. Bring the best out of them.

10. Be credible

Reputation is about earning credibility, not expecting it. You must work hard at building credibility so others are confident about doing business with you. One way to earn credibility is to keep your promises. Another way is to be honest. Actions speak louder than words. If you are credible and honest, your personal brand will sell naturally. So make your brand work for you. Most people agree that there is a direct correlation between a person’s reputation and his or her success. How effectively you represent yourself in public often determines what you will accomplish in your life. Your name can open….and close….doors for you. Guarding your personal brand needs to be a priority.

As an inspirational leader do you have commandments that you work and live by? What do they look like?

Michele Wierzgac is a leadership expert, keynote speaker, and author of the forthcoming book, Ass Kicking Women: How They Leverage Their Informal Networks For Success. With her high energy presentations, Michele conveys sound leadership solutions and promotes audience engagement and on-your-feet participation. She promises her audience that they will leave her solution-driven keynotes and workshops with at least one passionate, life transforming leadership tool. For more information on bringing in Michele Wierzgac for your next event, please visit: https://micheleandco.com.

The 3 Values of Great Leaders

Are You a V.I.P. Leader?

By John Waid

John Waid-the best leaders

Leadership is an overused word. There are a lot of managers in companies, but very few leaders. Even the ones that call themselves leaders possess attributes that leave much to be desired. Great leaders have a few qualities that make them special and make the companies they lead extraordinary for people and profits.

So what is the definition of leadership? Great leaders are not the people that you’re forced to follow; they are the ones that you want to follow. Great leaders are humble, care more about others than themselves and know that it’s not about the leader, it’s about the followers. Most of the best leaders have a dream and turn that dream into reality with others.

So what’s in the DNA of great leaders and what values do they stand for? What makes them V.I.P.’s?

Best leaders know that if they do not put their people before profits they will make fewer profits; and so they are loved by their people, not feared. Click To Tweet

Values: Value Lies in The Values

The great leaders know that they are responsible for establishing the culture of the company. As a matter of fact, the great leaders know that culture is their number one responsibility and work on it daily.

Let’s say that you take over a company that has been in business for 100 years, is currently about to go bankrupt, and has almost 100,000 people? What do you do first?

Most people would analyze the strategy and probably change it. What happens if the 100,000 people do not believe in the new strategy? Will you be successful?

Others would change the strategy and when that didn’t work, they would focus on restructuring. Maybe a Chapter 11 will be their saving grace. But if that doesn’t work? Then, of course it was not the leader’s fault; it was because the people did not execute the strategy and then did not work well in the new structure.

The best leaders would analyze what the company was doing well when it was successful and see how they could replicate it. Most companies had a founder and beliefs that people followed that made the company successful. The best leaders work on the values and behaviors of the people and make sure they worked on the culture first. Because without the people knowing and living the values that you stand for you may be doomed on getting people to follow you.

So the best leaders work on culture first and have unique values that they all know and they train on; and it is at the core of how they hire, fire, and promote.

So what are some things you can do today that would make you a better leader?

  1.  Select or pare down your values to one to three values (no more than that) that are unique to what makes you successful.
  2. Define how these values should be lived down to details like “Our people smile with teeth.”
  3. Hire, fire and promote for these behaviors and make sure to hire people who already believe in them as they are more likely to do what you are going to ask them to do anyway. Emphasize and train the specific behaviors in detail. Success or failure in companies is all about people and how they behave.

Leaders should work on Why—Culture First through values and daily behaviors, How—Structure second through coaches and paying attention to how to serve the customers, and What—Strategy third through managers. Identify your sustainable competitive advantages and when they will be executed to produce results and profits. The best leaders are also master communicators.

Inspiration: Inspire on Purpose

Great leaders make sure that everyone knows, is inspired by, and lives the purpose of why they are there. Many of the great leaders talk about the purpose of the company often and make sure that everyone cares about why they are there in the first place.

People in companies don’t get frustrated necessarily by what they do, they get burned-out because they don’t know why they do it or don’t like who they are doing it for. Purpose-driven companies continually outperform companies that lack purpose.

Do you have a purpose, other than making money for why your company exists? Define this transcendent or noble purpose by:

  1.  Talk about why you are in business. What is the ultimate outcome if you do great work? Who will it benefit?
  2. Decide what your purpose will be—some made up examples are “We Believe in Better Living”, “We Help People Be Better”, “We Inspire, Inspiration”
  3. Communicate a inspire people to live the purpose daily.

Leaders can inspire on purpose if they have a purpose. Make sure that you develop a purpose that others are willing to follow voluntarily.

People: Be in the People Business

The best leaders realize that if you do not put people before profits you will make fewer profits. The leaders that connect with the frontline and have the support of the people that make the money are the ones that people are willing to follow voluntarily.

There are leaders that care about the money, others about the customers, and still others that care about people (starting with the employees). The best leaders care deeply about their employees and put them first, knowing that if the employees live the purpose and values (culture) then they will be great to customers and produce more profits.

The best leaders are loved by their people, not feared. They care about each one of them even more than they care about themselves. They know that they are the examples for how they want others to behave. The best ones eat in the employee cafeteria, spend time with the front line, and value them. These leaders are especially adept at communicating with actions before words.

Some ways to focus on people first are:

  1. No matter what industry you are in, you should become an expert in people; because if you think about it, you are in the people business. First, you need to understand your people and need to serve them so they can serve the customer. Most companies are strong in technical skills and weak in people skills.
  2. Train on people skills and benchmark internally and externally against the best in the business.
  3. Make your headquarters “the people headquarters” and make sure you focus on hiring for purpose and values. Make sure your leaders are humble and believe they are and know how to be in the people business.

Want to be the best leader? Become a V.I.P. leader who focuses on Values, Inspiration, and Purpose and you too will be a V.I.P for your employees, customers and the bottom line.

John Waid is the founder of C-3 Corporate Culture Consulting, a keynote speaker and author of the forthcoming book, Inspiring Isabella—A Little Story for Leaders About Culture-Driven Leaders. With a specialty and passion for corporate culture, sales and global business, John believes culture is the engine that drives companies to better results, higher morale, and increased profitability. An active speaker, trainer and subject matter expert, John Waid holds an enduring belief that corporate culture is the key to success for companies. For more information on John Waid, please visit: www.CorporateCultureConsulting.com.