MVP Seminars Blogs

I attended a business meeting today for which I was the facilitator and observed one individual I’ll call Michael, exhibit poor leadership skills. He had a lot to say about everything discussed and was a poor listener to other attendees who asked clarifying questions or had contrary viewpoints. Twice in the meeting he mentioned that he had been rebuffed by the group and did not care whether his views were shared by all members of the group. Quietly the chair and a few others began to try to summarize Michael’s concerns into coherent statements. This was difficult to do because his statements were somewhat inconsistent and he rambled on about a myriad of issues. He attacked some people personally who did not agree with his ideas. To advance the discussion and to end the discomfort someone made the motion for a change which captured some of the issues Michael wanted. The vote carried unanimously. While Michael believed his actions displayed leadership because he vocal and willing to risk unpopularity, others saw his behavior differently. Many viewed his comments to group members as disrespectful and because of that they were closed to the ideas he tried to share. It was not what he was saying, but how he was saying it. Outside of the meeting people commented about how important it is to be coherent in communicating and to show respect for others. In prolonged conversations attendees stated that leadership is about effective communication, demonstrating caring for others of the groups to which you belong. Most importantly, one must listen to be thought of as a leader by others. Effective leaders listen with the right approach and respond appropriately to the person who is talking. They are able to express themselves clearly and professionally. They listen for understanding. When there is a match in the communication, successful interactions are the result and conflict is minimized. Asking questions and paraphrasing what is heard ensures two-way communications. Lastly, respectful dialogue creates a supportive environment for the thoughtful expression of differing viewpoints and the exchange of ideas. As shown in this real life example, forcing individual perspectives, verbal attacks and poor listening, can lead to hasty decisions in organizations simply to “ease the pain”. Have you ever found yourself behaving like Michael? If so, people may have commented about you, too, after the fact beyond your earshot. To be an effective leader: Express your ideas in a positive way Talk less, listen more Handle objections to your ideas professionally, not personally
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"Undercover Boss" is one of my favorite shows. Every Friday night a CEO “discovers” good people when he cuts through management layers, policies and processes to learn the truth about his organization. By becoming a participating member in these processes, he finds people in problem solving mode every day and managers that show poor leadership by refusing to address the root causes of the problems. Managers frequently refuse to fix problems that hide the potential of assets and people to deliver better results. Why? Because THEY BELIEVE THEY HAVE THE AUTHORITY to do so. If you could change those beliefs, the bottom line and culture would improve, which makes changing management team mindsets about their roles in change worth a lot!  
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I attended a business meeting today for which I was the facilitator and observed one individual I’ll call Michael, exhibit poor leadership skills. He had a lot to say about everything discussed and was a poor listener to other attendees who asked clarifying questions or had contrary viewpoints. Twice in the meeting he mentioned that he had been rebuffed by the group and did not care whether his views were shared by all members of the group. Quietly the chair and a few others began to try to summarize Michael’s concerns into coherent statements. This was difficult to do because his statements were somewhat inconsistent and he rambled on about a myriad of issues. He attacked some people personally who did not agree with his ideas. To advance the discussion and to end the discomfort someone made the motion for a change which captured some of the issues Michael wanted. The vote carried unanimously. While Michael believed his actions displayed leadership because he vocal and willing to risk unpopularity, others saw his behavior differently. Many viewed his comments to group members as disrespectful and because of that they were closed to the ideas he tried to share.  It was not what he was saying, but how he was saying it. Outside of the meeting people commented about how important it is to be coherent in communicating and to show respect for others. In prolonged conversations attendees stated that leadership is about effective communication, demonstrating caring for others of the groups to which you belong. Most importantly, one must listen to be thought of as a leader by others. Effective leaders listen with the right approach and respond appropriately to the person who is talking. They are able to express themselves clearly and professionally. They listen for understanding. When there is a match in the communication, successful interactions are the result and conflict is minimized. Asking questions and paraphrasing what is heard ensures two-way communications. Lastly, respectful dialogue creates a supportive environment for the thoughtful expression of differing viewpoints and the exchange of ideas.  As shown in this real life example, forcing individual perspectives, verbal attacks and poor listening, can lead to hasty decisions in organizations simply to “ease the pain”. Have you ever found yourself behaving like Michael? If so, people may have commented about you, too, after the fact beyond your earshot.  To be an effective leader:
  1. Express your ideas in a positive way
  2. Talk less, listen more
  3. Handle objections to your ideas professionally, not personally
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Leadership wisdom: do you have it?   Do you know the difference between experience and time spent on the job?  Wise leaders do.  Read the following story taken from Understanding Your Role As A Leader.   I will not make any conclusions or issue any challenges.  Both of those are up to you.   Early in the 20th century the Campisano family movde from Italy to North America.  Finding himself in a new country and in a new culture, and without the ability to speak English, Al Campisano,   the oldest of the children, at age eleven, began his American           educational experience in the first grade….   I have often wondered what Al Campisano was learning in the first  grade that the other students were not.  When I met Al in the 1970s he and his brother Guy were the owners and operators of a            multi-million dollar business named the AL CAMPISANO FRUIT         COMPANY.  Al and Guy had become highly respected business         and community leaders in Louisville, Kentucky…   Sal Campisano was a brother to Al and Guy and he was employed by the fruit company as a dock worker.  At that time, I was part owner of a small wholesale produce business and a large portion of what I sold came from the Campisano brothers.  One morning  while I was paying my bill, Guy and I were standing in his office from where we could see out onto the sales loading area. Looking in that direction, I saw Sal.  Out of curiosity, I asked Guy, “How  long has Sal been working here?”  “About nine years,” responded Guy. "Then why is he still working on the dock?” I asked.  “He is a family member and has nine years experience.  Why is he not in management?” To which Guy responded in a way that I will never forget.  He            said to me, “Mark, you don’t understand.  Sal doesn’t have            nine years of experience.  He has one year of experience and             has had it, nine times.”*   *Mark T. Sorrels, Understanding Your Role As A Leader, (Bloomington, IN, Xlibris Corporation, 2011),11-12.
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Recently while standing on the south bank of Green Lake in Wisconsin, I noticed a large number of fishes in three feet of water or less.  Bass, bluegill and yellow perch were readily available for the prepared angler.  Usually, when in shallow water, fish are easy to catch. The next day at the same time I returned to the same location and there were no fish to be seen!  What happened?  Change; the warm, southern breeze on the first day had become a cold wind from the east.  The barometric pressure had changed and the temperature had dropped.  In order to catch fish, an angler would have had to make some major adjustments.  The fish were still in the lake but had moved to deeper water or were hiding in the thick aquatic vegetation.  In order to catch fish, the angler would have had to use smaller bait, fish in deeper water and slow down his or her presentation. Though effective leaders initiate change, they must also be able to discern the winds of change that blow from another source.  Wise leadership knows that due to the constant challenges of change that adjustments are an ongoing necessity.  Effective leadership calls us to be flexible enough to make the needed adjustments in order to keep putting fish in the livewell.
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It happens sometimes.  We clash with people at work, but there’s a better way through the right kind of communication.     Recently, I had a spirited discussion with a woman who works for me who had made some mistakes I just had to address.  Our exchange was tense at times, and we eventually worked things out, but the most interesting thing to come out of it was what we learned from the experience.   Her name is Mary, and she’s smart, accomplished and works quickly and efficiently—most of the time. Mary would probably describe the conversation differently, more like a cannon explosion.  It did start that way, as I had let things build up without discussing my concerns when they happened.  And then, on a particularly busy morning, I just let it out.   I could tell Mary was surprised and I’m sure she felt I was being harsh.  Maybe I was at first but well, I was mad. As managers and business owners, we have the right to expect quality work and peak performance from people who work for us.  At the same time, we need to know and practice effective communication, so we can get the performance results we want and keep up morale.   Nothing promotes productivity and loyalty like support and respect--and that works both ways.  In business, I had seen how badly women treated each other. They sabotaged, rather than supported, each other. I knew we could do better, but we first needed our own code of conduct for how to think and live in the world that was different from the one we inherited from men. It was my dream to build a community of women helping each other through a program that could show women how to tap into their own value and innate power. In 2011, my dream came true when I created The Women’s Code.   As for Mary, she listened intently and didn’t say a word until I had finished my rant. I had expected her to be defensive, and make excuses for not meeting a deadline, but instead she acknowledged her mistake and took responsibility! How rare is that?  From having learned The Women’s Code, I could tell Mary had been reminded of the importance of being accountable and learning from mistakes.   Then it was her turn, and she calmly but firmly pointed out behaviors of mine that impede her workflow, like not being accessible to answer her questions. I have to admit, she made a valid point.  “I know my value,” Mary said at one point, and I was both impressed and gratified because I knew she had embraced the core principle of The Women’s Code.  Today, we are happily back on track, we understand each other better and can even find humor in the whole situation.   Tips For Effective Communication * Prepare.  Think in advance how best to communicate your complaints so the person on the other end doesn’t get defensive. When someone feels attacked, they naturally defend themselves.  It’s normal, we all do it, but it creates a stalemate and stifles productivity. * Flip the complaint around so it comes from your point of view. For example, instead of saying you did this and I’m really mad about it, start from a neutral, even humble, place.  “Maybe I didn’t explain things clearly, but from now on I’d like you to follow through on all email correspondence.” * Lead by good example and respect, not fear. * Ask what tools or changes a person needs to do their best work. * Try to understand how a person’s work process may may differ from the rest of your team. * Be clear on deadlines and work priorities. * Acknowledge a job well done. Praise and support are the best motivators.   Beate Chelette is a respected career coach, business trainer, and a consummate entrepreneur who founded The Women’s Code, a unique guide to personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private and digital world. After selling one of her start-up companies, BeateWorks, to Bill Gates in 2006 for millions of dollars, CEOs and entrepreneurs around the country came calling to learn her strategies for success, and today Beate shares them in her dynamic break-out training sessions on leadership, conflict resolution and effective communication.
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According to Webster's Dictionary a visionary among other things is an inspired individual.  This definition resonates with me because as a culture we are in desperate need of such persons. Wouldn't you agree that the Mars landing was an inspirational event?  It was a stellar visionary enterprise within the milieu of our local stars. I would like, however, to direct your attention to a visionary who is an earth-crust dweller much like ourselves.   Her name is Sasha Kramer.  Sasha Kramer has a doctorate from Stanford University in Ecology.  She is from New York and her primal passion is "poop."  Yes, I said, "Poop."  In her own words:  "I wasn't thinking about the poop as poop.  I was thinking about it as nitrogen.  It made sense to me that, if I'm eating all this nutrient-rich food, then I'm producing all this nutrient-rich waste, and there must be some way to kill the pathogens and reuse the nutrients." Sasha Kramer made trips to Haiti as a volunteer  human rights monitor after the coup that toppled the regime of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  It was in Haiti when she was in need of the basic necessity of a toilet and found that too to be scarce that it became clear to her how important a toilet was not only for health but also for human dignity. That experience proved to be a visionary awakening for Sasha.  In 2006 she completed her Ph.D and then co-founded SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods), and moved to Haiti and built public toilets from which the waste would be harvested and used in agriculture. SOIL has built some 200 simple composting latrines in Haiti and once a week collects thousands of gallons of human waste.  The waste is send to one of three composting sites where is it converted into pathogen free fertilizer.  Sasha is eager to share her novel and boldly visionary idea with others.  She is an inspiration.  Sasha knows that"toilets may not be the sexiest sell on the planet...But if you go into a community and say, "You can be a part of changing the agricultural landscape of this country (Haiti), you can be apart of fighting hunger through using these toilets,...people get really excited." Our world needs more Sasha's.  Our world needs more positive visionaries such as she.
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Many leaders are persons who function at a blazing pace. Most leaders want to move faster than do followers. So, what is the proper speed of leadership? There are times that call for leaders to work at a brisk pace. The danger of moving too fast however, is that the leader may end up pushing the followers instead of leading them. There are times when a leader must work at a fast pace. There are times when a leader must work at a moderate pace. And there are times when a leader needs to be in low gear. The wise leader is the one who knows when to work at which pace. Years ago when I was in the produce business, I drove a 2 ½ ton 900 series Ford truck. It had a two-speed axle and a low gear of which I seldom used. The old timers called that low gear the “granny gear” or “bulldog.” When in this lowest of gears the maximum speed of the vehicle was probably about three miles per hour. However, there were occasions when the “bulldog” or “granny gear” was needed. When the truck was loaded to capacity and had to start its journey uphill, low gear was the answer. Use low gear leadership when entering a new position of leadership and/or a new relationship. Use low gear leadership when seeking to change longstanding traditions. Use low gear leadership when introducing and implementing radical ideas. Remember, leading effectively does not always require you to travel at high speed!
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The best way to maximize your time is with one simple question. What is the most important thing I could be doing with my time right now to get me closer to my goals?  This is a powerful question to ask when your schedule opens up or an appointment cancels. This is a great question to ask at the completion of one task and before the start of another. This is a great thought to hold when employees and/or coworkers want to interupt you. It is also very useful to ask it first thing in the morning before you start your day. Now we are making one really important assumption and that is that you have very clear, well defined goals. If you do, this makes our question powerful and life changing all at the same time. Try this for the next 30 days and you will be amazed at how simple it is and how powerful it is in moving you closer to accomplishing your goals.
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View Make it Better Here and Now on YouTube Hello, Al Spinks here, and thanks for your interest. You know what? I just don't get it. We live in one of the greatest nations on earth but I feel we're letting that greatness slip away. From an individual perspective, it seems as if we are yielding to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. It's as if we want others to do for us that which we are very capable of doing for ourselves. We want to become rich, famous and healthy over night but have a tendency to become depressed when that doesn?t happen. We seem to have forgotten that we have to put in work in order to attain anything worthwhile. In a conversation with my son Michael who is a personal fitness trainer, we discussed how even after an intense workout we are not able to see any significant change in our body the next day. We just put in the work and have faith that over time a proper combination of diet and exercise will produce the desired results. It's a process that works and this process will work for anyone regardless of his or her physical condition. To obtain this better level of fitness all we have to do is start where we are, have a plan and put in the work. So, if we can gain better fitness by assessing our current physical condition and creating a plan to improve it, don't you think we can do the same thing to gain a better life? All we have to do is assess our current spiritual, intellectual and physical condition and then execute a plan to improve them. We all have inside of us the necessary components to positively change the quality of our life. We just gotta wanna do it and get started right here and right now. First, we must take responsibility for whatever hand life has dealt us. It's not as hard as you think. As a matter of fact it's kind of easy. As stated in earlier posts, our health, age, circumstances and situations do not matter. All we have to do is want to improve our life and find an impartial coach to show us the way. But before I continue let me share this brief poem with you.

The Man Who Thinks He Can

by Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don't.

If you'd like to win, but think you can't

It's almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you've lost,

For out in the world we find

Success begins with a fellow's will;

It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are:

You've got to think high to rise.

You've got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life's battles don't always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or late the man who wins

Is the one who thinks he can.

Remember, all you gotta do is believe you can improve your life and you will! What are you waiting on? In my next few posts I will provide information that will assist you in this very worthwhile and rewarding journey. Until then here's wishing that you live today and every day passionately and with purpose. Thank you and God Bless!
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