MVP Seminars Blogs

Much as been written and said about teamwork and team building to the point now that it could be a bad cliché as unsuspecting employees run for cover when the boss springs on them another team building activity.  Besides now you could not get your staff off their phones long enough to even conduct an old skool Trust Fall exercise. 

Knowing that staff working together in a productive way is the key to meaningful productiveness, what is a leader to do?  Some take the approach of labeling, like calling employees teammates and forming them into workgroups.  That’s like calling your Hyundai a Ferrari.  It might make you temporarily feel better, you can even shut your eyes and rev the engine, but its still not the same thing.

Oh ya, you still might be wondering what I was doing at 2 AM to learn so much about teamwork?  I used to lead a search and rescue team for a sheriff’s department in Oregon.  From this I learned three critical things:  1. No time for endless meetings and planning.  Get your resources together and help your team get the job done.  2. Don’t get too hung up about the process, just get the persons found before they could die.  Anything less is a failed mission.  3. If you want your team to respect you and each other, there must be complete trust and communication.

I know is sounds so easy when I list them out that way, but it’s that darn ‘Trust and Communication’ part that so many have trouble with.  I promise you this, if you can achieve it, magic will happen.  Not only can you form high performance teams faster, but critical bond will be nearly unbreakable.  Teammates will go above and beyond for each other, even risk each other’s lives for one another.  Meanwhile your workgroup is till calling in sick.

Next time you have a big job to do, think of it as a search and rescue mission, in a storm, 2 AM, knowing you are not sleeping until the mission is complete.  It helps put everything into prospective real fast as far as who you want to help you and how are you all going to work together to get the job done efficiently and successfully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Jack W. Peters

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The People First® Business Strategy Map: The Ultimate Peak Performance Foundation for Sustainable Success

By Jack Lannom   I’ve got three quick questions for you. First: How does your organization perform at strategic thinking? Most organizations have established a long-term goal or goals more specific than “to remain profitable.” Having established a clear-cut target for future success, your strategic plan should identify all the elements and processes that will make that goal become a reality. Economics Pt 2So I’m assuming that, to echo George Barna, you have chosen to live by design rather than to live by default. You’ve developed a strategic plan, right? Well done! Let me ask you a second question: How many members of your leadership team can clearly, concisely, and confidently articulate that plan? Can every member of your leadership team promptly identify your strategic objectives and the metrics you’re using to track the organization’s progress toward reaching those objectives? Are you feeling just a little uncomfortable as you consider your answer to that question? Just one question to go: How many of your employees can communicate the objectives and metrics linked to your strategic plan? Can you name even a handful? OK, let’s make it easier; how many staffers can communicate the strategic objectives and measures established for their own department? If you truly want to thrive—not merely survive—in business, your answers to these three questions should be: (1) “Yes,” (2) “Everyone,” and (3) “Everyone!” If your answers were not quite so positive, don’t feel too badly; you’ve got lots of company! The BSC Designer group reports these startling statistics:
  • 95% of a typical workforce does not understand its organization’s strategy.
  • 90% of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully.
  • 86% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy.
  • 70% of organizations do not link middle management incentives to strategy.
  • 60% of organizations do not link strategy to budgeting.[1]
These figures are staggering! It can’t be a surprise that more than 9 out of 10 organizations fail to accomplish their goals when nearly nine out of ten executive teams spend less than one hour per month focusing on those goals and only five per cent of their employees understand them! Forgive me if this statement seems unkind, but this doesn’t sound like “leadership” to me, or even “management,” for that matter . . . it sounds like chaos! The way to turn chaos into coherence and cogency is to examine the way we think about the way we do business. Are we thinking wisely and well? Over the course of the next several weeks, I’d like to point you toward a way of thinking that holds the key to sustainable success. It’s called the People First Business Strategy Map. The Strategy Map will help you to think more philosophically and strategically about your organization so that you, as the leader of your company, begin to think more intentionally, deeply, and wisely about how to grow and improve your organization and help those whom you lead to do the same. In addition to introducing you to our Strategy Map, I’m going to devote some time to talking about thinking; you’ll learn the phrase metacognitive thinking, which essentially means “thinking about your thinking.” You’ll learn some techniques that the best organizational thinkers have mastered in order to take their companies to the next level. And I’ll discuss one of the most basic, one of the most effective—and one of the most overlooked—principles of motivating people available to every business leader. I truly look forward to interacting with you and reading your comments on this series. The tools and techniques I’m going to outline during these articles will be of tremendous benefit to you, both personally and professionally. Let’s get going! www.peoplefirstblog.com  
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How much time do you waste every day due to those people who are time disruptors? Do you have people who try to reverse delegate to you? Do you have team members who want to chat? Do you have a boss who wants to usurp your time by repeating old stories? How can you get past these time robbers without seeming rude? GIVING BACK THE ASSIGNED WORK When your team members try to reverse delegate back to you the things you assigned to them, how do you handle the situation? Most supervisors get tired of giving instructions and figure that it would just be easier to do it themselves. Is this true or does it create the belief within your team members that you will do the work they don’t want to do? Instead of taking on the work you assigned, ask them:
  1. What is the issue? Was I unclear in my instructions?
  2. Is there something I can clarify for you so you can complete this project?
  3. Have you tried the steps outlined in the manual? If you haven’t, please go back and do the steps. After you’ve read the manual, and you have a specific question, please come back.
  4. Do you have adequate resources to complete the task?
  5. Have you used your mentor to assist you?
When your team members understand that you won’t take the work for them, they will learn to come to you only with specific questions after exhausting other possibilities. DEALING WITH INTERRRUPTIONS When individuals understand that you will stop whatever you are doing to chat with them, they will feel there is an extended invitation to visit. While impromptu meetings are valuable at times, these can also usurp your time making you take home work or stay late. When you have an agenda to accomplish and need to get though your list of things to do, follow these guidelines to gently move disruptors out of your path.
  • Give them a time limit. “John, I only have three minutes. Can you tell me what you need to in five minutes? If not, will you send me an email so I can arrange a meeting for later?”
  • Be assertive by announcing, “Mary, what can I do to assist you?”
  • Let them know you are on the way to another meeting and invite them to walk with you. “Walk with me on my way to this meeting.”
  • Shut your door with a sign that says when you will be available.
  • Maintain working when somebody interrupts you. “Jerry, I’m working right now. When will you be available later?”
LETTING YOUR BOSS DOWN GENTLY It is easier to let your subordinates know you are busy, but it becomes much more challenging when it is your boss wasting your time. How do you let your boss know you can’t take on one more project at this moment without seeming disrespectful or incompetent? How can you release yourself from hearing the story about his famous high school football catch one more time?
  • “I can do this project for you right now if you are willing to allow me to transfer this other project to another department.”
  • “What I’m hearing is that you prefer me to complete this project for you rather than completing the other one.”
  • “I have five projects on my desk right now. Which one of those would you like for me to delay or transfer to another department?”
  • “I love your story about the touchdown catch. Can you share it with me the next time we have coffee together?”
People will disrupt or usurp your time if you allow them the opportunity. It is up to you to determine how much time you will allow others to take. Control your time robbers by communicating what you are willing to allow and when you will allow it. In this way, you will save the time you need for your family, hobbies, and exercise.

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Few people I know like to the process of resolving disagreements. In fact, when they hear "conflict" they automatically equate it with fighting. Yet one is not  comparable to the other. Conflict is simply two forces in opposition. Fighting is defined with such words as "violent, battle, combat, hostile encounter". Conflict resolution need not be hostile at all. In fact, there are many advantages to having disagreements with others. Our differences challenge us to see things from another perspective, to open our minds to new possibilities, to learn and grow.  We are given opportunities to expand our creative process of finding solutions. And on a spiritual level, we are asked to be considerate of others, to possibly put their needs before our own (unselfish), or to sacrifice completely with a generous heart so that the other person may benefit. Whatever the case, the process of finding resolution to our differences can be highly beneficial if we avoid making the following common mistakes: 1. Failure to remain calm: it's easy to get excited, aggravated, frustrated, or angry when debating with another party. Emotions flair and a peaceful discussion quickly escalates to a bitter battle. 2. The long-winded approach: we tend to ramble and elaborate more than is absolutely necessary. This poses a risk of frustrating both parties, saying something inappropriate, or veering off topic. 3. Being close-minded or opinionated: a "my way or the highway" approach works with no one. Arguing about who's right and who's wrong is fruitless. "There's only one solution" stifles the creative process and potentially overlooks the best solution. 4. Being unreasonable or unfair: being concerned only about the self creates an atmosphere of distrust. Making outrageous or impossible demands defeats the entire process, leaving both parties frustrated and annoyed. 5. Using fuel-injected statements: personal attacks, criticisms, digs, or disrespectful comments put the other party on the defensive and only escalate feelings of distrust and anger. How then does one peacefully resolve disagreements before they become combative? Here are five simple solutions: 1. This is a discussion not a battle. Maintain a positive, solution-oriented mindset. Breathe to remain calm. Practice SWaT* if necessary. Remember you are attacking the problem, not the person. 2. Brief is better. Keep it short and to the point. Stick to the topic.  Set a time limit if necessary. 3. Remain open-minded. Embrace new ideas. View this as a learning experience. 4. Consider the other person's point of view as equal and valid as yours. They have the same rights as you do in having their needs met. Conceding, if possible, or finding an agreeable compromise validates them as a valuable human being. 5. Use calming, inclusive statements such as "I  have faith that we can work this out." "I really want you to be happy with the end result." Keep in mind that unless it is a matter of life or death, no issue needs to be resolved at that exact moment. Take time off. Rethink your position or the situation. Consider other alternatives. Ask for outside assistance if necessary. Be solution oriented. Remember, there are always multiple solutions to each challenge we face. Be patient. Be persistent. Trust that you are capable. And never forget to satisfy the other party as well. *Stop, Walk, Talk Strategy from The Secret Side of Anger  
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"Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind - even if your voice shakes." --Maggie Kuhn

Too many people get lost in the noise of today's world.   They remain silent when they have an opinion and should speak up.  They follow someone else's decision, when deep down inside it is not what they really want to do.  They let the chatter in their head get the best of them and they end-up second guessing every action or step they take. Or worse, they don't take any action or steps at all.

As the quote from Maggie Kuhn demonstrates, it doesn't matter how you think you might "sound"... in today's world,  it is critical that you find your VOICE and stake your claim to who you are and what you want.  You can make a difference in your life and in the lives of those around you....you just need to use your VOICE.

But how do you do that?  Finding your VOICE as a leader, in whatever role you play in life, is not necessarily something that you may think about every day.  While you likely know what your VOICE is intuitively, it does require some discipline and commitment to find your VOICE and use it appropriately.

Finding your VOICE does not mean talking louder...or faster...or speaking just to make noise or impress others.

Finding your VOICE mean discovering what really matters in your life...discovering your Values.  Your passions.  Your talents.  Your hungers.  Your thirsts.  Your flairs.

Finding your VOICE means creating your Outcomes to get what you want and need. Establishing your goals.  Building that roadmap…whether on a dirt path or a concrete highway…so the resulting journey is one worth taking.  Charting your map of Outcomes provides you can handle the smooth or bumpy roads with lots of detours along the way.

Finding your VOICE means building your Influence muscle.  Once you have identified your Values and Outcomes, how do you Influence yourself, your environment and those around you to maximize your opportunities and results.  Recognizing and developing your Spheres of Influence are key to being successful in using your VOICE.

Finding your VOICE means developing the Courage to do what you know is right for you. The Courage to take a risk and step out of your comfort zone, no matter how small a step.  The Courage to try on new behavior.  The Courage to speak up.  The Courage to change directions.  Or the Courage to stand alone in a crowd no matter how scary that sounds.

And finally, finding your VOICE means creating your overall Expression of who you are... to your community and to the world.  Communicating your needs and wants.  Contributing your talents and capabilities.  Building and re-inventing your personal “brand” so you remain renewed and refreshed so your shelf-life is extended past any pre-determined expiration date.  Your Expression is the culmination of finding, creating and using your VOICE to make a difference for yourself and your life.

Discovering your Values, creating your Outcomes, sharing your Influence, developing your Courage and conveying your overall Expression...are all of the ingredients for finding and using your VOICE.  What are you waiting for?

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LEARNING THE MOST CRITICAL SKILL What is one of the most critical skills a leader can have? Is it creating positive team chemistry, the ability to build relationships, the capacity to teach others, the aptitude to resolve conflicts, or is it the power of sharing a vision? Those are all critical, yet they have something in common—the ability to communicate. The most powerful skill is the ability to converse with others in such a manner that the listener feels empowered, inspired, and valued. How do you go about attaining such a skill? In order to have honest and valued conversations with others, you must first have these conversations with yourself. These conversations are challenging. Many times you do not want to hear what most needs to be heard. It means being willing to look at yourself in a way that others see you. It means asking others what pieces of you limit you in your ability to be successful in your personal relationships and in your professional ones. AVOIDING OUR MOST NEEDED CONVERSATIONS It means taking down the walls you have so carefully constructed that protect you from the things you do not want to know. It doesn’t mean you have to tear yourself down in the process. This is the opposite of what you want to achieve. What you desire is improvement; not self destruction. I was speaking to a coaching client a few weeks ago. He was upset with himself, because he had inadvertently sent an email out to his clients which included a political piece at the beginning of the video. He was multi-tasking and failed to listen to the entire video. He received three emails back from individuals who were extremely upset about the political content of the video. Instead of immediately calling or emailing the individuals, he spent a night beating himself up, tossing and turning, feigning sleep, and feeling guilty for his inattentiveness. He sent an apologetic email the following day, but four days later when speaking to me, he was still visibly upset. He had the conversation with himself he had erred, but he failed to have the conversation about why he felt it was necessary to beat himself up for four days. This is common for most of us. We skip the conversations we most need. THE PRICE OF AVOIDANCE Isn’t this true in our personal relationships as well as our business relationships—that we avoid the conversations which feel most uncomfortable? We think somehow we can resolve them by ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist. What is the cost of not having those conversations? Do we lose our spouse, partner, or our best friend? Do we lose opportunities? Clients? Financial freedom? Is the price of not having the conversation preventing us from having the things we love? Honest conversations involve asking and answering the difficult questions. When we can do this, we have a map of where we need to go and why we need to go there. By having one open and authentic conversation at a time, we can find the opportunities we have been missing.  
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"The sharpest sword is a word spoken in wrath." (The Buddha). A little boy, prone to anger, was told by his father, "Every time you're angry, drive a nail in that wooden fence. When you've learned to control your anger, start removing them." Six months later, the boy had removed every nail he had driven. Triumphant, he showed the fence to his father. The father sadly pointed out, "See the holes? The fence will never be the same." I first heard this story several years ago and thought it a perfect analogy to the potential damage anger can have on another person. All emotions have purpose and value. None are inherently bad, even anger. It's how we choose to express them and what we do with them that determines if they become a positive or negative force. Here's the problem with anger: we become upset with someone for whatever reason and lash out in fury. "You idiot! I told you not to do that!" "I never should have married you! My parents warned me!" Ouch! Hurtful words hurt...over and over. We may say something once yet the person on the receiving end of our rage replays those words again and again, each time gaining momentum and power. For the offender, the incidence occurs once and is forgotten. For the target, they relive it ten, twenty, one hundred times. Angry words have the potential to cause a lifetime of suffering. When I was young, I distinctly remember an adult telling me in a nasty way I'd never amount to anything in life. Clearly they were angry although I never understood why. I hadn't done anything to warrant it at that time. (I had plenty of other times though.) Those words stayed with me for decades. I attended college (with no aspirations) simply because my mother insisted. (Thank you, mom.) Eleven days after graduation I married my high school sweetheart and soon thereafter started a family. Staying home raising children was safe and at times became a convenient excuse for not venturing outside of the home. After all, what else could I possibly do? I reminded myself I'd never amount to anything so why even try? It wasn't until I was in my forties that I was able to revisit those hurtful words and re evaluate their meaning. What had caused me great anguish for nearly thirty years, in reality, had no value. That adult's words were not truth. They were spoken in anger. Now as an adult, I was finally able to put the past behind me by forgiving the one who so cruelly drove a nail into my spirit. Hurtful words hurt - over and over. They can leave holes in the very fiber of one's being. Choose your words wisely. Choose kindness. To order a copy of The Secret Side of Anger or The Great Truth visit http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html
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Congratulations! You’ve been asked to lead or chair an event, committee or project in your community.  You eagerly accept.  Now where do you begin? You have interest in the project and you like the idea behind the cause but now that you’ve been asked to be in charge you don’t know what to do.  Is this you?  Sometimes we are eager to lead but realize that while we are not lacking in our passion we may be lacking in skills. After all, leadership is a combination of experience, natural ability and skill. You may not have the natural ability or experience but there are basic steps to leadership. To be an effective leader here 10 steps that you will need to take:
  1. Set the vision. You will need to be able to describe to the people who have “signed up” for your cause what you intend to do in the future.  You need to paint a visual picture with your words of the desired end result of all of the work the group that you are leading will achieve. Test the vision by asking your group if they agree or disagree.  Be willing to discuss and consider different ideas to get buy-in.
  2. Clarify the mission. Explain the purpose of the organization that you have been asked to lead.  You must make sure that everyone understands the mission so you will need to ask questions. Why are you here? What are we here to do?
  3. Develop other leaders.  The first job of a leader is to develop other leaders.  You cannot do it all alone.  Seek help from others in your organization that have skills that you do not have.  Identify clear functions that can be delegated in part or in full early on.  If needed skills are not present in your group then find others that may be recruited with the skills that your need to move forward.
  4. Make hard decisions and be decisive. Leaders have to make decisions some of which may be hard.  That’s why “it is lonely at the top”.  You will need to be decisive to move the group forward toward your common goal.  Practice sound decision making by gathering facts, seeking counsel of trusted advisors in your group and using your intuition.
  5. Motivate and inspire the group to achieve the common objectives. Leading can be challenging when the work gets tough or obstacles are encountered along the way.  As the leader you must generate enthusiasm and excitement to keep everyone motivated.  Find ways to have fun and encourage people who are committed to the cause.   Kick off events, pep rallies, and rousing talks are all ways to motivate the group.
  6. Stay positive and see mistakes as an opportunity for learning.  There’s nothing worse than a leader who is pessimistic or negative about the work at hand.  Being positive despite setbacks keeps a group motivated. Leaders who look at mistakes as opportunities show their followers how to overcome diversity.
  7. Communicate frequently. As leader it is your job to check in with people who are working on the common cause to see how they are doing.  Do they need help? Are they doing well? These conversations provide opportunities to give and get feedback and link ideas and people together which builds trust.  Find time to bring the group together to ask for opinions and ideas encourage feedback from your group.  People will learn from each other and this will help to build group culture and collaboration.
  8. Seek counsel from others with opposing views to avoid “group think”. Avoid gridlock and huge gaffes by bringing people in the group who have opposing ideas or perspectives.  Sometimes we attract people who are just like us and we are attracted to groups that affirm who we are.  If you notice that your group is monolithic, test your ideas with others outside of your group to get different perspectives.
  9. Develop a plan of action engaging all in the process. Engage the entire group in developing the plan of action by soliciting their input throughout the process.  Plans that have buy-in by the group will have a greater chance of success when it’s time to implement.  No one can say “no one asked me for my opinion”.
  10. Reward and recognize success. Recognizing everyone who puts forth an effort is an important job of the leader.  You would be surprised how many people are motivated by simply saying “hello” or “how’s it going”?  Recognizing effort, a job well done of individuals and key milestones met by the group along the way are vital to success.  And of course when it’s all over, celebrate and be sure to properly thank all who contributed to the success of achieving your goal.
Don’t be afraid to lead if you are asked. Leading others takes confidence and experience helps to develop it. To a large extent, leadership is always on the job training.
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 We all encounter angry people in every walk of life. Some will confront them, others avoid them like the plague. There are times when either approach is acceptable. I do not like drama. However, I am concerned about others when they appear upset. And I am very knowledgeable as to how to help them. After all, I've been doing this professionally for twenty years. So my choice as to whether or not I become involved has to do with several factors including how well I know the person, if I'm mentally prepared to assist them at that time, if I feel they are open to my help, and if this is a serious issue. Here are a few tips should you decide to reach out with a thoughtful heart: 1. Make a non-judgmental observation. "You seem upset." 2. Avoid using the term angry as it can actually increase their anger. 3. Validate their feelings. One of our most basic human needs is to be acknowledged. 4. Express genuine concern. 5. Ask them to sit down rather than calm down so that you may better understand what they have to say. 6. Set boundaries if their behavior is out of control. 7. Listen empathetically. Understand their feelings, not simply their situation. 8. Ask questions to better understand their situation. 9. Ask if they are happy with their current situation and/or how they feel about it or if they would like things to be different. 10. Inquire as to how you can best help them. 11. Reassure them that you have faith in their ability to move beyond this. 12. Interject humor only if appropriate. To that list, I'd like to add a few "do not's":                 ~Be wary of incendiary statements such as "What's your problem?" "You shouldn't feel that way."                 ~Do not get caught up in their drama, anger, rage, etc. Remain calm.                 ~Stay focused on them and their issue. Don't make this about you.                 ~Don't personalize or take offense to what they are saying or doing. Their emotions and actions are about themselves, not you.                 ~Never allow them to direct their anger at you. They may express it to you but not at you. We all have issues with anger. Sometimes we have to address our own and sometimes we need to offer assistance to others. When safe to do so, be a vessel of healing to another. One person at a time and we can heal our angry planet. Peace.  
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LETTING THE ALHA DOG OFF THE HOOK How often have you felt the sting of the realization that things could have been better if the communication between other people and yourself would have been improved? I went through a leadership workshop last week which included some experiential activities. The trainer created activities which caused us to think about the scenarios. She then lead us through ah-ha moments of realization. During each of these activities there was a communication component. The obvious connection was that great leaders know how to effectively communicate with others. During one activity we sat in chairs that formed an upside down T formation. The first chair was the alpha chair. The next chair was the beta chair and the three chairs in the back were assigned the roles of gamma, epsilon and delta. Per the rules, we were not allowed to communicate except via notecards. On each notecard, we had to write the words “To” and “From” before we could write our message. The notecards were to be passed to the facilitator a.k.a. the human mailer before being passed to the proper person. Alpha could only pass a note to Beta who could communicate with all people. The three people in the back could also only communicate with Beta. Each individual was also given a set of instructions which other people could not see. I made the mistake of sitting in the Beta chair and was quickly overwhelmed with messages. Before I could even get one message written, somebody else was demanding an answer. It was difficult for me to ascertain a priority in message sending. Even though the activity lasted only seven minutes long, I was frustrated to the point I stopped trying and spent all my time laughing at the situation. However, if it would have been a real situation, I probably would have resigned my position and searched for another job. COMMUNICATION SHOULD BE SHARED BY ALL As we debriefed the exercise, it became clear how important essential communication was. What if the person sitting in the Alpha chair expected all communication to be run through other people? What if that individual never spoke to the people lower down the chain of command? What happens when the leader expects other people to facilitate all the information? Have you ever played the childhood telephone game where one person whispers something in the next person’s ear, and that message is passed down the line until the last person? The message never remains the same, yet as adults we expect other adults to be able to adequately pass on our messages. When we do this, we are creating failure in our communication system. Proper communication involves talking to people directly when at all possible even if it entails using a webinar system or other media system. It also involves following up all messages with detailed written information which reviews the information, but most importantly it allows people to ask questions so they can clarify what is occurring. Many of the problems within companies could be eliminated by using good communication. The problem is that we believe that it takes too much time to communicate effectively, but if we learn to communicate better today then we can save ourselves the time of dealing with issues tomorrow.
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