Doing & Being Anyway…by Jim Johnson

You know these people at work. They live under the radar. But more than that, they get special recognition and even rewards for things they do when many others in the organization consistently are doing the same thing. They get promotions. They get or give themselves new titles. They undermine the company culture, but somehow they are seen as the “darlings” of the executives.

Truth: doing the right thing and being the right person does not guarantee you will win at work. You’ve been around long enough to know that life is not fair and sometimes, you end up on the short end of the deal.

Question: is living up to standards, achieving and exceeding goals, being professional and mature…is it all worth it?

Quick answer: YES! Refusing to live and act to the lowest common denominator is worth it! Doing the right thing and being the right person is always right.

It is not easy, but it’s worth it. You know that. I know that.

Being reasonable with unreasonable people is difficult.

Being certain in an uncertain work environment is difficult.

Living up to standards while others around you are trying to constantly redefine the standards to make sure their behaviors fit it…that is difficult.

While I’m not that old, I have learned some things about folks who seem to “get by” and get ahead for all the wrong reasons. It will not last forever. It won’t.

Doing the wrong thing and being the wrong person will create:

* the lack of trust from others. That leaves that person having to constantly look over their shoulder as alliances change.

* the lack of respect from others. They become a joke behind their backs.

* the manipulation of the numbers, goals, results (or at least the understanding of those things), and that will not last.

* isolation. The wrong people end up alone or with very few around them as other “followers” get tired of the games that get them no where. Followers don’t always win in these situations. It’s usually about the “wrong” leader getting ahead and no one else.

* a removal from power. When those around the wrong people have had enough, actions can be taken to remove that person from power.

The choice is yours. Do the right thing and be the right person. Looking in the mirror with no regrets is healthy and will lead to success. It will.

Think Outside the Rut by Jim Johnson

ice ruts

Here in Indiana, we are praying for an early Spring.  Winter has been rough this year.  My neighborhood is full of ice ruts making driving difficult and unsafe.  My wife even got stuck in one the other day requiring some good Samaritans to come to her rescue.

Ruts don’t get us where we need to go.

You’ve heard the expression “think outside the box”.  For me, a better way to say this is “think outside the ruts” because it’s in a rut where I get caught up, stuck, needing help.

Do you find yourself in a rut?  New ideas at work are hard to come by?  Your work seems blah.  You need a shot in the arm?  It’s time to break out of that rut.  But how?  Try these ideas:

Read

There are a lot of great resources available to us today that we didn’t have just a few years ago.  The amount of reading free reading material is enormous.  Check out the apps Flipboard and Zite.  You can select topics you want some new exposure to.  The apps are easy to use and are available on your smart phone and tablet.

Venture outside your expertise. Explore new worlds.  Are you in a traditional business?  Read about entrepreneurs.  Find out how they tackle obstacles, getting a product to market, how they deal with staffing issues.  Not tech-savvy?  Read what is happening in the high-tech world.  Learn.  Grow.  Become inquisitive.  READ.

Broaden your network

Do you spend most of your time during your work week with your colleagues?  It’s time to branch out and meet new folks.  Attend a Chamber event. There are many in my community.  I bet there are in yours.  How about going on a business call with your outside sales folks.  You can learn a lot about your department and company by doing this.

Are you on LinkedIn?  You can meet a lot of great people here and you will be exposed to even more great reading and insights.  I recently made a connection with a local business owner who was in the process of doing business with my company.   I had the opportunity to help smooth out some rough communication and misunderstanding in this process.  That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t broadened my own network.

Change your perspective.

When was the last time you looked at your business through the lens of your customers? It’s difficult to do.  But we can go for years thinking we are producing products customers want all the while they are slowing leaving our business and products for someone else who “gets them”.

Mystery shopping initiatives can help change your perspective.  Does your company collect and monitor customer feedback?  Pay attention to it!  Act upon it!  Let your customers know you appreciate their input!

Learn something new

Spend time with a colleague discovering what they do. You probably don’t know how what they do impacts your work (and neither do they).  You can learn so much more about your work and your company by doing this.  Ask a lot of questions.  Ask to see the reports they review.  Find more of the “story behind the numbers” while you’re with them.

Move

Getting out of rut demands motion.  Many times, you sit at your desk for hours (right?).  Get up and move.  Walk up and down the stairs (if you have them).  At my company, we built a walking path around our campus.  My CEO and I had our 1-on-1 walking this path multiple laps (when it was much warmer).  Moving can clear your mind.

Get out of your rut.  Get some exposure to new ideas, thoughts, and perspectives.  Your mind, department, and company will thank you for it!

try something new

Personal Brand – Perceptions of Others by Jim Johnson

personal brand

In this last post on Personal Brand, I want to address the most difficult circle for many (most?) of us – the perceptions that others have of us. In marketing terms, let’s call this our “Market”.

Do you remember the old Burger Chef fast food chain? Growing up, we called it the “Barf-n-Choke”. Can you tell what our perception of Burger Chef was? Does it exist today? Not here in NE Indiana. The Market decided what it thought of Burger Chef with its feet – they left.

As you consider how to strengthen your personal brand, you are forced to seriously consider the perceptions others have of you. This area is the most difficult for me. Part of me wants to act like Clint Eastwood in “High Plains Drifter” and just jump on my horse and ride – and occasionally shoot bad guys. But if I’m serious about my personal brand, I have to pay attention to this area of my life. So, I’m dismounting…

As I see it, perceptions can come from 3 primary groups of people: Haters, the Herd, and Helpers. Let me explain what I mean.

HATERS

I know this term seems harsh, but I wanted another “H” word. But you already get the drift of what I’m going to say about them. These are people who judge first and don’t ask questions. They are a small group of people who delight when someone fails. They don’t see the good in others. They put others down in an attempt to lift themselves up.

Secret: Whatever a “hater” throws your way, find the truth quickly in what they are saying, use that to strengthen yourself, then avoid/ignore them. Don’t get caught up in senseless arguments with them. They revel in this. If need be, agree to disagree. Don’t waste personal energy obsessing with trying to convince them to change their opinion.

For some folks, they place a large price tag on cutting others down and have a very, very tiny price tag on love and cooperation. Don’t let them put that big, ugly price tag on you. You’re worth more than that!

Another secret: If you find yourself feeling hurt over and over again by a “hater”, you have a choice in how you handle this. A counselor friend of mine once told me this – you can do one of three things:

  1. Rehearse It – play those hurtful “tapes” over and over in your mind. It will only further damage your confidence and self-worth. Don’t do it!
  2. Nurse It – have a perpetual pity party. Don’t you just love to be around a person like this? No? Then don’t be that person. Say what my older sister says…”I’m over it!”
  3. Reverse It – OK, so something bad happened. Maybe you played a part in it or not. Let it go and move on. Learn from it. Become better for it. “Repent” from it (yeah, I wrote repent = to turn around, do a 180 and walk away from something).

HERD

This is the largest group of people you encounter every day. It’s the barista at your favorite coffee shop. It’s the co-workers you pass on the way to your office. It’s the other parents at your daughter’s dance studio or son’s baseball team. It’s folks you attend church with. It’s your neighbors. It’s your vendors.

Do you know what general impression they have of you? Here’s another question to ask yourself:

What do you want people to think about you 5 minutes after you’ve left their presence?

This question comes to the core of an idea that author Peter Bregman wrote about in his book, 18 Minutes. In one of the chapters, he writes that too often that we have an event happen in our lives (i.e. interaction with someone). “It” happens and we then react to it – good or bad. Bregman encourages us to change the order of this, or as Covey wrote, “keep the end in mind.”

EVENT –> OUTCOME –> RESPONSE

How do you want an interaction to end? Think about what this person who just dumped something on you will think about you 5 minutes after you’ve walked away? Now respond. That can make a difference, right?

You want to keep moving your Herd towards the next group…

HELPERS

Helpers are those folks in our lives who we trust. They can know us best. They will be fearlessly honest with us – yes, love hurts sometimes. They hold us accountable. They don’t judge…they critique. They build up. They expect the best from themselves and those around them.

In marketing terms, Helpers are our Net Promoters. We need more Helpers in our lives.

Some key points as we conclude:

  • Think of your Herd and Helpers as “buyers” of your personal brand. You need buyers. Concentrate most of your emotional energy on them. Learn from them. Become better because of them.
  • Don’t believe all of your good or bad press!
  • Truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

How’s your personal brand looking these days? Are people “buying” you? Are you proud of your brand? Need to strengthen it? Try focusing on the 3 circles and see what happens.

I hope you sell-out…to a better, improved you!

Thanks for visiting and reading! I appreciate it! JJ

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8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses by Geoffrey James

Apr 23, 2012

The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. See what they get right.

A few years back, I interviewed some of the most successful CEOs in the world in order to discover their management secrets. I learned that the “best of the best” tend to share the following eight core beliefs.

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of “troops” to order about, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customers as “territory” to be conquered.

Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers … and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine.

Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by “pulling levers” and “steering the ship.”

Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control.

Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “wait and see what the boss says” mentality.

Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children.

Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.

Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

Average bosses see fear–of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege–as a crucial way to motivate people.  As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.

Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain.

Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change … until it’s too late.

Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.

Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.

Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

A Janitor’s 10 Lessons in Leadership by Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

William “Bill” Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy.   Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor. 

While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory. 

Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties.

Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed.  Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved.  After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours. 

Maybe it was his physical appearance that made him disappear into the background.  Bill didn’t move very quickly and, in fact, you could say he even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury.  His gray hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets.  And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny.  Face it, Bill was an old man working in a young person’s world.  What did he have to offer us on a personal level? 

Finally, maybe it was Mr. Crawford’s personality that rendered him almost invisible to the young people around him.  Bill was shy, almost painfully so.  He seldom spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn’t happen very often.  Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze.  If he noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell. 

So, for whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the squadron.  The Academy, one of our nation’s premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk.  And Mr. Crawford…well, he was just a janitor.

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976.  I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story.  On Sept. 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy. 

The words on the page leapt out at me:  “in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire … with no regard for personal safety … on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions.”  It continued, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States …”

 “Holy cow,” I said to my roommate, “you’re not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor winner.”  We all knew Mr. Crawford was a WWII Army vet, but that didn’t keep my friend from looking at me as if I was some sort of alien being.  Nonetheless, we couldn’t wait to ask Bill about the story on Monday.

We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in question from the book, anticipation and doubt on our faces.  He starred at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, “Yep, that’s me.”  Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at the book, and quickly back at our janitor.  Almost at once we both stuttered, “Why didn’t you ever tell us about it?”  He slowly replied after some thought, “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.”  I guess we were all at a loss for words after that.  We had to hurry off to class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to.

However, after that brief exchange, things were never again the same around our squadron.  Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst-Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal!  Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, “Good morning, Mr. Crawford.” 

Those who had before left a mess for the “janitor” to clean up started taking it upon themselves to put things in order.  Most cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal squadron functions.  He’d show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin.  Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.

Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the difference.  After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more purpose, his shoulders didn’t seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger “good morning” in return, and he flashed his crooked smile more often. 

The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more.  Bill even got to know most of us by our first names, something that didn’t happen often at the Academy.  While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill’s cadets and his squadron.

As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past.  The last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977.  As I walked out of the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, “Good luck, young man.” 

With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed.   Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his native Colorado where he resides today, one of four Medal of Honor winners living in a small town.

A wise person once said, “It’s not life that’s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.”  Bill was one who made a difference for me.  While I haven’t seen Mr. Crawford in over twenty years, he’d probably be surprised to know I think of him often. Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are ten I’d like to share with you.

  • Be Cautious of Labels.  Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just an Airman.”  Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant.”

  • Everyone Deserves Respect.  Because we hung the “janitor” label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us.  He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner.  Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.

  • Courtesy Makes a Difference.  Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position.  Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team.   When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory “hellos” to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed.  It made a difference for all of us.

  • Take Time to Know Your People.  Life in the military is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with.  For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it.  Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?

  • Anyone Can Be a Hero.  Mr. Crawford certainly didn’t fit anyone’s standard definition of a hero.  Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal.  Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls.  On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team.  Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar.

  • Leaders Should Be Humble.  Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields.  End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats.  Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics.  Leaders would be well-served to do the same.

  • Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve.  We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right?  However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way.  Perhaps you weren’t nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should-don’t let that stop you.  Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence.  Private Bill Crawford didn’t pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living.

  • No Job is Beneath a Leader.  If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity?  Think about it.

  • Pursue Excellence.  No matter what task life hands you, do it well.  Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.”  Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.

  •  Life is a Leadership Laboratory.  All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory.  Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen.   I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people.   I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught.  Don’t miss your opportunity to learn.

Bill Crawford was a janitor.  However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model and one great American hero.   Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable leadership lessons.

from :  http://www.homeofheroes.com/profiles/profiles_crawford_10lessons.html