Looking for the Gold

In Dr. Lee J. Colan’s book, Leadership Matters, he shares the following under the chapter titled “Coaching”.

“At one time, Andrew Carnegie was the wealthiest man in America….At one time, he had 43 millionaires working for him.  In those days, a millionaire was a rare person.

A reporter asked Carnegie how he had hired 43 millionaires.  Carnegie responded that those men had not been millionaires when they started working for him but had become millionaires as a result.

The reporter’s next question was, “How did you develop these men to become so valuable to you that you have paid them this much money?”  Carnegie replied that men are developed the same way gold is mined.  When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold, but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt – one goes in looking for gold!

Some leaders find themselves sitting on a mountain of gold, and yet they feel poor because they don’t know how to mine the gold from their teams.  Coaching is how we mine our team’s gold.

Inspiring leaders coach good team members to become better people.  They help them build better lives for themselves and others.  They build their team from the inside out…inspiring excellence at work and in life.”

Dr. Colan goes on to talk about coaching is more than merely talking at an employee.  Talking alone won’t result in retention of information/training/skill building.  Dr. Colan states that “we generally remember:

  • 10% of what we read (memos, books)
  • 20% of what we hear (instructions)
  • 30% of what we see (looking at pictures)
  • 50% of what we hear and see (watching a movie, looking at an exhibit, watching a demonstration)
  • 70% of what we say (participating in a discussion, giving a talk)
  • 90% of what we both say and do (simulating the real thing, doing the real thing)

Coaching is a pay-me-now or pay-me-later leadership proposition.  Take a shortcut and you will be saying the same thing to the same team member next week – no fun for either of you….Inspiring leaders prevent re-coaching by investing the time to coach right the first time.”

5 Ways to Foster Great Communication with Your Team by Chris LoCurto

This is a guest post by Chris LoCurto. He is a Vice President at Dave Ramsey’s, host of the EntreLeadership Podcast, and highly sought after business and leadership speaker. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

There is no doubt about it: Great companies foster high levels of communication. When team members understand what is expected of them and what’s going on in the company, you win.

Group of Business People in a Power Meeting

Keep the communication from happening and you will find that fear soon sets in, which is quickly followed by gossip.

Why? Because when team members don’t have a clue what’s going on, they begin to panic—wondering if their jobs are in jeopardy or if the company is falling apart.

How can you keep it from happening? It’s simple … communicate!

And by communicate, I mean more than just asking how their day is going or what they did last weekend. It has to be intentional.

Here are five ways to start communicating better with your team.

  1. Key Results Areas (KRAs). It is vitally important for each team member to know what they are supposed to do each day. While job descriptions are great, we use KRAs to show specific tasks and responsibilities that are required. They define in detail what winning looks like in each position.
  2. Meetings. While meetings can sometimes have a bad rap, they are still one of the best ways to communicate with your team. You just have to make sure that you prepare for them ahead of time, set an agenda, stickto the agenda, and that the meetings are static.In other words, if you don’t have a set time every week, the crisis of the day will move it around and keep you from communicating.
  3. Storytelling – People respond well to stories. It’s just how we’re wired. You need to become a great storyteller of how your company came to be and the victories it’s had along the way. This will inspire team members and give them hope in the midst of their battles.
  4. Weekly Reports.Everyone on the team needs to be turning in a weekly report of what they have accomplished toward their KRA. This is for both the writer and the reader. It allows both to see what the team member has done to win in the position.The report also gives the team member the opportunity to add a high and a low of the week. You’ll be amazed at what they put down.

    BUT … and it’s a big but, you must respond to the report. If they have a great high, go celebrate. If there’s a bad low, go lead. If you don’t, it’s just become paperwork.

  5. Annual Checkup.I don’t believe in annual reviews. Why? Because you should be spending enough time with your team that you already know how they are doing. Therefore, an annual checkup is a great way to go over the year and discuss how well they’ve done.Rarely should this meeting include what they need to work on, unless they’re still really working on it. Reprimands should be done immediately when something is wrong. Don’t wait to discuss it in a checkup.

These are just a few things you can do to add to your current communication process. When done well, your team will feel more secure about their positions and, in turn, be considerably more productive.


From Michael Hyatt’s blog found here:  http://michaelhyatt.com/great-communication.html

Stay Away from Easy

I sent the following to my department leaders yesterday.  I have modified it a bit for this post’s purposes:

“In Communism, inequality comes from placing mediocrity on a level with excellence.”   Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

I’ll change this quote to the following:

“In many companies, ineffectiveness comes from placing mediocrity on a level with excellence.”  As a leader in our department, know that mediocrity is your enemy.  Mediocrity is easy.  As a man named Scott Alexander once said:

“All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.

In order for our company to continue to succeed, we all have to know that hard work is ahead.  Anyone can move up by dishonest means.  Anyone can get attention for doing the wrong things and have others see them as good.

But I want to encourage us all to “stay away from easy”.

Someone Else’s Success

I just returned from vacation today.  While perusing through Flipboard (great iPad/smart phone app), I came across a good article written by Keith Ferrazzi (in the Harvard Business Review, July 11, 2012).

In his article entitled “How to Turn a Relationship Into a Sale”, Ferrazzi wrote:

“…people like people who focus on their success.” 

He goes on to discuss how to effectively grow sales through building quality relationships with people.  It’s well worth the read (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/how_to_turn_a_relationship_int.html)

But this quote above got me thinking…isn’t this also true about managers who desire to develop their staff to the next level?  It’s far easier to develop someone who wants to be developed, right?  And to get that develop-ee open to change, managers need to find ways to connect with them.  If it’s true in sales that “people like people who focus on their success”, then it stands to reason that team members needing to be developed like managers who focus on their success.

Ferrazzi states that an effective sales call  is “a success if it advances your customer’s cause and builds the relationship…”  Insert the word “team member” for “customer” in this sentence and read it again.  If you can, in the course of getting a team member to the next level, advance their cause and build a stronger relationship, then you’re well on your way to creating a successful team member and a highly effective team.

So, how do you focus on your team member’s success?

  • Know what their strengths are right now.  Build on those.  Show them how they can mentor others on the team.
  • Know what their weaknesses are right now.  Co-create a mastery plan that will lead to more strengths.
  • Get to know your team member personally.  I don’t mean that you should become close friends.  I do mean you should know what they value, some important things about their family, what are their short-term/long-term goals and dreams, etc.
  • Encourage reading.  What articles, blogs, books are they reading right now?  They “aren’t into reading”? Give them a book list.  Share articles.  Share blogs you frequent.  There are many free pod-casts they can download and listen to.  In coaching sessions, ask what they are learning.  Set an expectation that in order to grow and development, exposure to other thought is critical.

You can do this, manager!  You can turn a relationship into a motivated, effective, and purpose-filled team member!

17 In-Competencies of a Leader

I usually don’t make focusing on a negative a pattern, but I couldn’t resist on this one.  Today’s post does have a “dark-side” mirror image that we all see far too often.  Let’s not fall into these traps of in-competencies:

17 Competencies of a Leader (by Lee Glass) 17 In-Competencies of a Leader (by Jim Johnson)
Handle emotions in yourself and others. Live with your emotions on your sleeves and let ‘em fly when you feel like it. 
Make decisions that solve problems. Fail to make decisions that will delay problems.
Show compassion. Show indifference.
Support individual effort. Support individual effort – as long as it promotes you.
Support team effort. Manipulate team effort – see #4.
Respond to identified customer needs React to customer complaints.
Share information Hord information.
Manage cross-functional processes. Keep your employees tethered to the same job duties for years.
Take initiative beyond job requirements. Do what you have to do to get by.
Manage projects. Avoid projects.
Manage time and resources. Let others determine how you spend your time and calendar.
Take responsibility for your own actions and those of your work group. Blame others.
Display technical competence. Blame IT.
Make credible presentations. Create data-dumping presentations.
Create and describe a vision. Follow someone else’s vision – if it doesn’t work, blame them.
Manage changes required to realize a vision. Maintain status quo.
Display professional ethics. Do whatever you have to do to get ahead.

Which side will move you and your department/company forward?  You and I both know the answer…

17 Competencies of a Leader by Lee Glass

June 25, 2012

Business Leaders

Competence is defined as the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. As we know, there are many definitions that describes a leader. Various interpretations! Leaders come in all shapes, sizes, cultures and genders. However, the thought process is that “the stuff” that it takes to be a successful leader is relatively similar.

A study was taken by AchieveGlobal Inc into the nature of leadership and its impact in the workplace. The goals of this study was to determine leadership qualities that top executives in North America need to lead organizations.

This study consisted of 353 senior executives — 143 top managers with the actual title of or functional equivalents of CEO, COO, president or chairman as well as 210 of their direct reports.

The research revealed 17 competencies that make up the profile of a leader. These competencies may be grouped and summarized as follows:

  1. Handle emotions in yourself and others.
  2. Make decisions that solve problems.
  3. Show compassion.
  4. Support individual effort.
  5. Support team effort.
  6. Respond to identified customer needs
  7. Share information.
  8. Manage cross-functional processes.
  9. Take initiative beyond job requirements.
  10. Manage projects.
  11. Manage time and resources.
  12. Take responsibility for your own actions and those of your work group.
  13. Display technical competence.
  14. Make credible presentations.
  15. Create and describe a vision.
  16. Manage changes required to realize a vision.
  17. Display professional ethics.


7 Ways to Help You Finish Any Project by Dr. Jeremy Statton

Are you good at starting something new, but struggle to finish? If you are like me, you develop incredible plans. Big ideas. Remarkable dreams. But your story seems the same.

It’s a great place to begin, but it’s not enough. The story you tell isn’t the one you start. It’s the one you finish.

The Tunnel of Awesome

One summer my next door  neighbor and I decided to build a tunnel in our back yards. His dad had given him an “army shovel” and we decided to put it to good use.

An army shovel is basically a large spade with a short handle on it. The only thing I could imagine it being used for is digging latrines. To us it was perfect, probably because it was the only tool we had.

His parents typically grew a vegetable garden every summer, but for some reason they didn’t that year. After putting our 8 year old brains together, we hatched a plan. We would dig two gigantic holes, one on each side of the garden, and then connect them underground. We were gong to build a tunnel.

I know what you are thinking. Awesome, right? Best summer ever, right?

Wrong. Our plan was incredible, but we didn’t finish.

A Dying Dream

We began what felt like the most important project of our lives taking turns digging with our much-too-small shovel. You can imagine how excited we were as we watched the hole get deeper and the pile of dirt grow larger. Every five minutes we would pause just to give each other a chest bump.

By lunchtime we were beginning to grow tired, and before dinner we quit. I don’t remember making a decision to stop. It just happened. With each scoop of dirt, the amount of change that took place seemed to grow less and less. As our initial enthusiasm wore off, the work became more difficult. We stopped caring and we gave up.

And we did what so many people do, we moved on to the next big thing.

It was the first of many “incredible projects that would die without being completed.

How to Become a Finisher

When we start something new we often begin with an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm. There is nothing better than that moment when we stand on a bare patch of dirt with an undersized shovel in hand, imagining the tunnel of awesome.

Then the work becomes hard. We are distracted by glasses of lemonade and plates of cookies and Bugs Bunny cartoons. We make excuses, like not having a bigger shovel or even a backhoe. We blame our friend for having a stupid idea.  And we quit.

Starting projects without finishing doesn’t change our story. But every project has what Seth Godin calls The Dip, and is difficult to see through to the end.

Here are 7 ways to help you go from being a dreamer to a finisher.

1. Vision. Define where you are headed and why you are doing it. When the work becomes tough, use your vision as a reminder.

2. Discernment. Not every project is worth pursuing. It’s okay to quit the ones that are not worth pursuing, but be careful not to quit the ones worth pursuing.

3. Share your vision. The expectations of others can be a powerful motivator. Just imagine the peer pressure if I had told kids at school about my summer project.

4. Have the proper tools. Digging a tunnel with a spade was never a good idea. Don’t frustrate yourself by not being adequately prepared. Find the correct tools and people to help you with your dream.

5. Deadlines. Give your project a time-frame. Instead of trying to meet one big deadline for the end of the project, create smaller ones that you have to keep along the way.

6. Rewards. Everyone enjoys a present. Build a reward system into your plan. Each time you accomplish a step towards finishing, give yourself and your team a little bonus.

7. Display Accomplishments. Show off what you have done. Let others see the fruit of your labors. Let your team be encouraged by the visible evidence of progress. Having something to show for your work will help you to keep your hand to the shovel.

Any work that is worth doing will be hard. Unfortunately too many give up just before they start to see the benefits of their effort. Find ways to help yourself go from being a starter to a finisher.

How do you stay motivated?

Dr. Jeremy Statton is an Orthopedic surgeon, a small business owner, and a writer. Follow his blog at http://jeremystatton.com/