MVP Seminars Blogs

PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU FOR SPECIFIC REASONS Did you know that a recent Gallup research has indicated that people follow leaders for very specific reasons? People described those reasons with astonishing clarity. They were trust, compassion, hope, and stability. In order to have others trust you, you first have to trust yourself. When you initially ask yourself if you are trustworthy, you will probably do what I did and nod your head affirmatively. But when you start asking yourself at a deeper level if you really trust yourself, can you still answer yes? Before you answer that question, take a moment to read further to see if you embody the qualities that other people associate with trust. The first one is easy or so it seems. Are you honest with yourself? Do you look at your weaknesses and limitations and acknowledge them to yourself and to others? Do you recognize your strengths and allow them to flow through you? When I think of honesty, I think of being truthful to myself and to others. Here is where it gets hairy. We have grown up believing that white lies are okay; they protect other people from harm. So we grow up with the belief that we can’t tell the truth, because other people can’t handle the truth. We also hide things from ourselves, because we believe that we can’t handle the truth. I grew up with a family who hid elephants in the middle of the living room. We all knew the dysfunctions occurring in our family, but we pretended they didn’t exist. The funny thing was that pretending didn’t stop the eventful pain we all suffered. The pretending didn’t take away the issues. I often wonder what would have happened if we would have had the strength to discuss our dysfunctions. I’m certain there still would have been some pain, but could we have stopped it from leaking all over our lives for years and years? Honesty is a bit illusive and never as easy as it seems, but it is the first step toward building trusting relationships whether they are in your home or office. When people doubt what you say and see the differences between your words and actions, they tend to separate from you in order to protect themselves. This distance creates disharmony. CONSISTENCY CREATES UNITY Another aspect of trust is consistency. Who are you from hour to hour and day to day? Can people around you expect to see the same you every day? I remember when I was a young and very moody basketball coach. The players would send a teammate to my office to gauge my mood. She would then inform her teammates whether it was going to be a good or a bad practice. Before we even started practice, the mood had been set, and because they never knew what to expect, they were fearful. They didn’t know who was going to walk through the door. Can you see how this stopped great communication from flowing? The players didn’t want to come to my office to discuss issues, because they didn’t know who they were going to find. Due to my unpredictability, I created separation. I also didn’t discover what I needed to know in order to get the team to play their best. ADDITIONAL QUALITIES OF TRUST There are other qualities of truth that you should examine. Ask yourself if you embody these qualities:
  • Personal integrity
  • Sincerity
  • Vulnerability
  • Openness to discussion
  • Involvement
  • The ability to resolve conflict
  • The capacity to ask others for help
Being truthful is not as easy as it first appears. It is never quite as black and white as we want it. Truth requires a lot of self work, yet the rewards are well worth the work. Can you imagine the benefits of having better relationships where people can talk to you without fear or judgment, rejection or punishment? Can you imagine how people will feel around you when they trust you exude sincerity, integrity, and vulnerability? If you want to create relationships that will ignite passion, commitment and innovation, then begin with trust.  
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During the winter/spring semester of 2013 I was involved in a leadership class at a nearby college.  All students in the class were asked to write a paper on what they valued most in leaders.  The number one answer: good character! Does this surprise you?  It did me!  The most important thing the students looked for in a potential leader or in the leaders they knew was good character.  Somewhere down the line they did mention intelligence, education, experience, communication skills and more.  But again, all of these followed good character. When others look at us, what do they see?  Do they see good character or great intelligence?  Do they see good character or much education?  Is it possible the ones we lead view important issues of leadership differently than we?  Maybe it is time for leaders to be more in tune with those we lead.  After all, one who possesses great intelligence or outstanding communication skills can quickly loose followers and respect due to bad character.  Be sure to pay attention to the areas of leadership that are not taught in the academic classroom.          
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What effect will your leadership have on others?  When you breathe for the last time, what will others say when reflecting upon you as a leader?  The following paragraph is taken from the book Understanding Your Role As A Leader.     Lou Saban coached football at the high school, collegiate, and  professional levels.  Under his leadership, the Buffalo Bills won their first championships.  Before its merger with the National Football League, the American Football League boasted teams from such cities as Boston, Oakland, Houston, Denver, Kansas City and Buffalo. In 1964 and again in 1965, the Bills were the champions of the American Football League.  Few people are aware of the fact            that George Steinbrenner was once an assistant of Saban’s when  Lou was in the collegiate ranks.  Upon Saban’s death, an Associated  Press story quoted Steinbrenner as he spoke of Saban: “He spent a  lifetime leading, teaching and inspiring and took great satisfaction in making the lives around him better.” Wow!  What better words could be spoken of a leader?  A leader is one who makes better the lives of those around him.  And often times good leaders  do that by providing the proper opportunities for potential leaders  to develop. Leadership is about investing your life in the lives of  others. Steinbrenner said  that Saban spent his life developing those           around him.  That is what I hope others will say about you when    they  think of your life  and leadership.*
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The Traps That Steal Your Initiative

“If you only see problems or despair, that is what will be. But, if you see hope and opportunity, then you can make change happen! It comes down to what you choose to see, despite all that is around you.” -Virginia Jones

Often as I work with leaders, they seek to create a feeling of ownership among their employees. They seek to have their people see opportunity and not problems, so they can initiate solutions instead of accepting the status quo.

Ownership means you have a stake in the game. It means that what you do matters?—?it matters for yourself, to your team, to your customers, and to your community. It is positive choice to make your slice of the world better because you have been there. It is stepping up, instead of hiding out. Even if the outcome doesn’t equal the effort, you still move forward because you can. It is using your gifts to choose improvement over fear.

But, there are three conditions that lead to an absence of ownership or initiative. These three maladies are like a virus that can uncontrollably spread.

However, there are cures to control the symptoms and eventually unleash positive change. Look at yourself and consider how prevalent these three vicious viruses are on your team and how you can turn them around to promote engagement and betterment.

Attitude #1: “It isn’t worth the effort!”

In other words, I’m resigned or apathetic to the fact that I cannot fix things no matter what I do. It is the belief that customers will always be cranky, leaders will always have their own agendas, and bad things will always happen. It is no use in trying to improve my team or even my own attitude because it is just a matter of time until something negative will happen. Even in small doses, this condition can suck the life out of a team.

Attitude #2:”I’d rather remain upset!”

The fancy term for this is sedentary agitation. This means being frustrated about the mediocrity and mistakes that happen around you, but not doing anything about it. Typically people with this condition care about doing the right thing and want to make a difference, but choose to not translate their energy into action. Instead, they complain and find solace in being a critic. They choose to devote their energy in being upset instead of trying to make it better.

Attitude #3:”Forget you all!”

This condition is when someone gets so fed up that they decide to become extremely independent. They are tired of the poor team performance, the inconsistent hand­offs , or the delays from HR and are taking things into their hands. While this can sometimes be helpful to shake things up, it can become unhealthy when the person pursues their own needs at the expense of others.They can forget they still need to partner with others to achieve a better outcome. However, their exaggerated autonomy begins building silos, which worsens relationships instead of improving the collective performance.

You Have A Choice!

While these attitudes are very natural and we all have experienced them at various times, it is important to not let those perspectives become overpowering. There is a definite way to minimize and even overcome these potentially destructive attitudes. The remedy is illustrated well by an old Native American story about a grandfather teaching his grandson an important life lesson. The grandfather says to his grandson:

“There are two wolves fighting in my heart. One of the wolves is fearful, envious, and resentful. The other wolf is generous, compassionate, and hopeful.”

Intrigued by this situation, the grandson asks, “Which wolf will win the fight?”

The grandfather responds, “the one I feed.” (Shambhala Sun, pg. 53, May 2011)

The key is to remember we have a choice! We have remarkable power to decide how to act, yet we can too easily give away that power or simply forget we have it. No matter the circumstance, the dysfunction, the poor performance, we always have a choice in how we show up as a leader, in how we decide to influence our world, and in how we decide to treat others. As we attempt to solve large problems, like a business transformation, a product line redesign, or even a community rebirth, we can choose to see possibilities instead of problems.

We do not need to choose to accept the status quo and be paralyzed by fear or apathy. We can remember our ability to choose something better and how we can elevate the performance of all around us by being our best self. We can then take ownership and show initiative, instead of allowing the situation to control and shape us.

Just like Virginia Jones said, when we see hope and opportunity instead of fear and despair we will make change happen!

We have created a special PRINTABLE POSTER of the Virginia Jones quotes above for you! Click here to download the FULL size PDF poster, and hang it up in your home or office, as a positive reminder.

Note: This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

About Daniel

Daniel Stewart a Leadership, Talent, and Change Consultant at Stewart Leadership.

He thrives in supporting top performing companies manage and retain exceptional talent, and coach the leaders of tomorrow.

About Stewart Leadership

Stewart Leadership is a talent management and leadership development consulting, coaching, and training company building leaders in start-ups to the Fortune 500. Click here to contact us and discover how we could partner with you.

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We're all influenced by those around us and by what is occurring in our lives. Something as simple as the  weather can affect how we feel. A cloudy, rainy day can take an otherwise cheerful person and transform them into a gloomy Gus of sorts. Being stuck in traffic can alter one's mood from that of excitement for what begins as a day filled with great anticipation to one of frustration and agitation. Moods can be uplifted or crushed by outside circumstances and once that occurs it can be very difficult to regain the positive mind frame we originally had.  We've all witnessed, or even experienced, how others influence who we are and the way in which we behave. A rather timid individual can be persuaded to participate in a risky endeavor at the encouragement of another. Bungee jumping, riding a motorcycle, or traveling to a foreign country can prove advantageous as it enables the other party to become more adventurous and therefore expand their life experiences. Trying new foods, undergoing a fashion makeover, or studying a new culture can all help to bring a shy person out of their shell and into a more diverse world.  We've also witnessed how others personalities have been affected by those around them. My friend, Joe, was very self-conscious. Unhappy with the fact that he was missing many of life's joys by isolating, Joe made the decision to befriend people who were the exact opposite of him - outgoing and gregarious. In doing so, their confidence rubbed off on him and he found himself becoming more of the person he had always hoped he would be. And while these examples all seem to be beneficial to those involved, there are instances when the opposite can be true.  I'd venture to say that we've all be subjected to people who are poor role models and even poorer examples of the kind of person we aspire to be. After Sharon's divorce in 2012, she began dating a younger man who was heavily into partying and the bar scene. Only an occasional social drinker, Sharon soon found herself drinking excessively in order to keep up with her new-found cohorts. Eventually, she lost her driving privileges due to a DUI as well as the respect of her family and former friends. Her life went into a downward spiral: she lost everything she had worked so hard to achieve. But most of all, she lost herself.  People often succumb to the bad behaviors of others. Your brother-in-law makes a nasty remark about you and you counter with one equally as offensive. Your boss hires her daughter as the new office manager. Resentment is high as the employees all ban together to make her work experience an unpleasant one. Pressure to participate in a behavior you find repugnant is intense. Do you concede or maintain your principles of treating everyone with dignity and respect? Our world is filled with those who are poor role models. It's easy to get swept up in the drama and feel pressured to relinquish our values. One who has high levels of moral integrity must never allow themselves to behave in an corrupt manner. One who is trustworthy can never lie or cheat or steal due to the coercion of those who engage in such unsavory acts simply because everyone does it.  Never ever allow anyone to bring you down to their level. One must always maintain their standards of integrity in order to be happy with who they are. If you do not approve of or like a behavior in another, such as arrogance, selfishness or rudeness, why would you want to embrace that as a part of your lifestyle? In doing so, you become exactly what you dislike in others and thereby lose all respect for yourself. When I was about ten years old, the group of girls I played with would all get together after school and go over to Nancy's house. We'd sit at the dining room table and choose one person to make fun of. One by one, we'd all say unkind things about her. This was not how I was raised, I thought. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But in an effort to fit in, I went along with the others. I allowed them to change who I was: a kind and thoughtful child. I hated myself and thankfully this activity was short-lived. But I learned an important lesson that has served me well for my entire life: and that is to always be true to myself and never allow anyone to change who I am. I now refuse to allow anyone or anything to change me in any way. I carefully weigh all that enters my life from people to experiences and make individual determinations as to how I will allow them to influence me.   Before being swayed by another person's attitudes or actions, ask  yourself the following questions: 1. Is this in alignment with my basic values and moral principles? 2. What possible consequences would I or others face should I engage in this behavior? 3. How will I feel about myself during and after the event? 4. How will I be viewed by others?* Never engage in any activity that causes you to: a. violate your personal principles and values, creating inner turmoil and conflict. b. feel embarrassed or ashamed during or afterwards, regardless of whether or not anyone else is aware of what's transpired. c. become unhappy and angry with yourself. d. lose self-respect. Never ever allow another person to change who you are. Always maintain your principles and values. You are the one who will ultimately pay the price or reap the rewards. Be smart; be self-loving. * It is a common belief today that one must not concern themselves with what others think about them. I am not one who subscribes to this modern-day  philosophy. I do believe other people's opinions of us can be useful as they help us to understand how others see us. Perhaps they recognize something in us that we are not aware of, either unintentionally or because we're in denial. Once realized, we can have a better understanding of ourselves and an opportunity to correct an inappropriate behavior.  
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Question: What is your strategy for developing your leaders? What is your strategy to insure that every employee knows how they contribute? Are they aware that YOU are aware of their contribution?

In this Coaching tip we explore the need for leaders to step up and be aware that one of the greatest roles he or she can play within the organization is that of Vision, Value and Meaning creator within the organization.

I am fond of telling a particular story when speaking to or coaching business managers who aspire to be stronger leaders. The story speaks to a fundamental truth that authentic leaders come to understand. It is the continual reinforcement to the rank and file within their organizations that their work has genuine value to the company, group, and team as a whole. It is a need for people to believe they contribute. That their specific role, be it janitor or the head of IT, plays a crucial role in the success and viability of the organization. We had the pleasure of a long term contract with a local transportation organization. The organization was headed by a visionary Director who requested that every one of his Supervisors/Managers attend Leadership courses. Part of the process of teaching these skills was to have the Supervisor/Manager perform portions of our classroom training. One day Supervisor trainee was in front of the class and it was not going well. There was a great deal of grumbling and complaining... The drivers and mechanics in attendance claimed to be underpaid and unappreciated, lacking of respect and of opportunity. The bottom line was they had not embraced or were led to understand their real value and the true meaning of what they did for the community!

I was about to "rescue" this Supervisor when something extraordinary happened. He held up his hand and said, "Guys wait! Have any of you run the 22 line through town?" Many nods from the group proved that most had. "Well, then you'll remember the kid that used to make his way to the stop every Tuesday who was severely disabled. Body shaped like an S, hand like a bit of a claw on his wheelchair steering knob? Remember him?" More nods and a bit of an attitude of so what, what's your point arose from the restless group. Then this Supervisor said something extraordinary....

"Well I asked this kid one day where he went every Tuesday and he said, ‘the YMCA.' I asked him what he did there and he replied, ‘not much, hang out with other guys like me, watch a little TV, that sort of thing.' I asked him what he did on the other days and he said, ‘mostly I sit at home, I'm not very mobile as you can see.'" Then the Supervisor asked the question, which is the basis for my story, "Do you think that your work as a Mechanic or a Bus Driver has value to that boy?"

The room was dead silent...I was stunned by the power of the question! These drivers, in that moment, understood they didn't merely turn a steering wheel, or pick up passengers, these mechanics didn't just insure the bus was ready to roll out every morning. They gave a kid, not nearly as fortunate as anyone in the room with legs...mobility and a chance to "hang out" like a typical kid.

I can't be sure of the long term affect this realization had on the drivers and mechanics but I do know they spent the rest of the day working hard and wanting to contribute to their company's success. After all, there were people out there who relied on them.

The company went on to win the national award for excellence in its field, which is the transportation equivalent of an Oscar! Coincidence; we'd like to think not.

Suggested strategy:

Get out of your comfort zone. Go shake some hands and find out who is staying positive and focused and specifically thank them for their efforts. Get out of the office and on the soapbox. Write a personal letter to everyone and anyone "leading" their teams in these critical times. Take someone to lunch that gets their hands dirty for the company. This person(s) might be staying later or getting in earlier to get the job done. Look for ‘above and beyond' behavior. Having lunch at your desk or with the same cadre of folks you normally do, doesn't get it done. You have to be visible in your desire to let the people know you are aware of their efforts and sacrifices.

Do it now. Put time in your calendar and stick to it. Better yet, pick someone today and begin!

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Hobo stew, poor man’s stew and Burgoo are delicious dishes that please the palate and fill the tummy.  The cooking of beef, rabbit, chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions and other ingredients in the same pot is what gives stew its unique flavor and place in the culinary world.  Looking into the pot, one can easily identify the various types of meats and vegetables called for by the recipe.  When one carrot is removed from the pot to be eaten separately, it still looks and tastes like a carrot.  However, when the carrot is served with the other ingredients in the stew, the combination of foods gives a unified flavor to be savored.  The ingredients used in making stew are not served as a three or five course meal; together they make one satisfying dish. Good leadership is much like stew.  Though it has many elements, they are not best served as a three or five course meal. Leadership is made up of vision, inspiration, integrity, good character and more.  Though each one of these elements can stand alone, it is the mixed combination of them that produces healthy, balanced leadership that enables the organization to move forward. What leadership ingredient is missing from your pot of stew?  Have you been trying to serve up your leadership skills individually?  Why not throw them all into one pot and allow them to be cooked and served as one dish?  In this way you will be developing your own secret recipe for “Leadership Stew.” If the professional development of your people is a priority; let me know.  I would be honored to assist you.
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They all complained about the daily gossip that ran rampant among them. Every one participated in it yet ironically no one could understand why they would be targeted. In the fifteen years I worked at the battered women's shelter, both staff and residents criticize those who engaged in rumors while also being the first to initiate the next juicy scandal. Any one of them could have had a successful career as a reporter for the National Inquirer. However, should their ears heed disparaging words about themselves, all hell would break loose. A verbal confrontation could easily turn physical. Is it possible to protect yourself from being the target of vicious rumors? Yes and no. There are steps one can take to better insure others will not speak falsely and unkindly about them behind their backs.

First, be certain to always be a person of integrity: be respectful to all whom you encounter. It is much harder and less likely (although not warranted) for others to deliberately cause havoc in your life when you have consistently shown yourself to be a kind person.

Secondly, be transparent. Live your life openly and honestly and in such a way that if a rumor about you was to surface, others would find it hard to believe.

Thirdly, if you do something less than honorable, fess up. Admit, amend, and move beyond.

In the event you have been the subject of malicious gossip and feel the need to address it with the responsible party(s), rather than make threatening accusations, ask who started the rumor and what was said. Query them as to what their motives were in order to better understand why they engaged in such vicious behavior. Share with them, in a non-accusatory manner, how the rumor impacted you. Inquire as to whether or not they have ever had a similar experience and how it affected them, being careful not to impart guilt on them. This step is strictly to help elicit sensitivity and compassionate from the instigator. Present them with the facts if necessary and ask if they would kindly help to remedy the situation by sharing the truth with others. Regardless of whether or not you approach them or whether or not they cooperate with your requests, it is imperative to always maintain your dignity and to forgive them with or without an acknowledgement on their part. I have had so many vicious and false rumors spread about me by family members. Initially I felt compelled to try and clear my name by presenting all parties with the truth. It was exhausting and my attempts proved futile. I learned one of my most valuable lessons in life: people will feel about you the way they want to feel and believe about you what they want to believe and the truth about you has nothing at all to do with it. I learned, too, that the quickest and easiest way to squelch a rumor is with silence. The sooner I move beyond it the sooner others will as well.

The world would be a much kinder and more gentle place if we could all learn to speak to people rather than about them. Let's all do our part. Take the pledge to always be a Purveyor of Polite Persuasion. Remember, in this world there is no room for rumors.

Lord, let every word I speak be a reflection of your love.

Points of reflection Before you speak about someone, ask yourself: Is what I'm about to say kind?  Is it true?  And is it necessary? James 1:26: “If you think you are being religious but cannot control your tongue, you are fooling yourself and everything you do is useless.” Psalms 141:3: “Help me to guard my words whenever I say something.”  
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© 2015 Mark T. Sorrels It takes less than one minute and thirty seconds. Since the 1930s thousands of people have seen it take place. Senators, movie stars and sports celebrities have witnessed it. I have never seen it, though I would like to. I have heard about it for years. It is the “March of the Ducks” at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Everyday at 11a.m. the five Mallard ducks march from their top-floor suite to the elevator, then from the elevator to the lobby fountain where they spend the day swimming in the fountain waters. Then at 5p.m. the reverse is done as the ducks march their way back to the elevator. In the beautiful Bluegrass state where I was born and raised, it was common to hear the phrase, “You better get your ducks in a row.” The meaning of course is to get organized; make a plan; get in line; set priorities; get serious and quit goofing off. Getting your ducks in a row is a priority for great leadership. Great leaders have a plan, are organized and set priorities. If you do these three in partnership with a clear vision, you are on your way to being an effective leader. If you ever have the chance to see the “March of the Ducks,” call or write and tell me about it!
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Change is hard for many employees, especially if they have gotten used to a certain way of thinking only to find out that they have to think a certain other way. Working with your employees in a way that is both inclusive and transparent can help ease the resistance you are bound to encounter. Need some guidance? The following tips can help as you move your organization through change: 1.  Communicate your vision so that others will be inspired to join. Speak in terms of results and the steps to getting there. Paint the big picture before you hone in on the numerous changes the ideal big picture requires. 2.  Learn to let go. Identify what is in your control to change and know how to let go of things you can’t control. 3.  Identify energy vampires and energy igniters. You’ll need a lot of “oomph” to lead a group through change. Energy is infectious, so surround yourself with energy and tap into its sources. Avoid the vampires and make time for the igniter. 4.  Inform others and communicate the change. Give relevant information at the right time in order to empower people and help them feel secure. In the absence of information, rumors begin. 5.  Listen, listen, listen. Listen with your ears, eyes, mind and heart. Understand other people’s thoughts, feelings and emotions. Listen to people’s concerns without judging. 6.  Respond. People react to change differently based on their experiences and who they are. When you here a concern, address it. When you sense a fear, speak to it. Respond in a helpful way to reactions to change by focusing on people’s needs and concerns. 7.  Acknowledge people’s feelings. Make it safe to for your employees to express themselves. 8.  Nurture yourself and others. Change can carry an unconscious stress on your body--don’t forget about it. Find outlets to give your mind and body a break. Find out what other people need to be nurtured. Don’t be afraid to ask about their needs. 9.  Help your employees find the support they need. This could be a once-a-week support group during lunch or seeking help through the employee assistance program. 10. Be patient. Change takes time and can try your patience. Recognize it can take a long time for the dust of change to settle, and be patient with the process and the people who are affected by it. Your demonstrated patience will give security and confidence to those around you.
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