MVP Seminars Blogs

People have frequently asked me, “Is courage the same as empowerment and bravery?” I don’t think so. Here is how I believe these vitally important concepts are distinctly different. Courage is an internal process. It occurs when you make a conscious decision to tap into and use your inner “reservoir” of heart, which you might not have even realized you have. Courage manifests itself when a person embarks on a journey that is in line with their “heart and spirit.” In fact, heart and spirit is the root of the word courage. Tapping into your courage enables you to stand in your true Self — your solid core. A courageous person’s leadership style exemplifies their ability to “lead self.” This is where you display your understanding of courage consciousness such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. They acted according to their convictions despite opposition or attractive opportunities that would betray their true nature. Simple everyday courage can be a powerful force for positive change, and it’s available to everyone because it’s your birthright. It’s what gives you permission to finally ask for a raise, confess that you hired the wrong person or spot, and act to the first red flags. Empowerment is a feeling, a quiet dignity and belief that every individual has value and a determination to base one’s life actions on that belief. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi demonstrate empowerment, as does contemporary activist Shannon Galpin (Mountain to Mountain) who empowered women in Afghanistan to ride bicycles when it was forbidden. Empowered individuals move societies forward. Empowerment can result when someone else bestows responsibility or faith in us. Empowerment can also be the mental outcome of a brave act. One feels empowered. Bravery is action. It is most often thought of as an impulsive act to protect others at one’s own expense, in the face of an imminent threat or danger. It carries a sense of physical threat and is usually accompanied by adrenaline-activated feats, commonly referred to as “heroism.” Our culture tends to focus on bravery since it hovers around physical courage. Physical courage is one of many facets of courage such as spiritual courage, leadership courage or moral/ethical courage.
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A large part of leadership is rooted in building relationships.  A leader can have great knowledge and vision but if he or she has not taken the time and energy to build strong, healthy relationships with those in the organization, not much true-hearted following will take place.  There is no substitute for being personally involved with those you lead.  Personal interaction allows a leader to strengthen his or her role and increase the value of leadership.  The following three suggestions will go far in helping you strengthen your role as a leader. Learn from your people.  Though you are the leader, there is much to be learned from those you lead.  The leader is not always the most intelligent or highly educated person in the organization.  Others have experience and insight that will help you do your job better.  There is no leader who knows all there is to know about any subject, business or activity.  Be willing to let your people help you become a better leader.  Occasionally, it is a good thing to let your people be your teachers. Laugh with your people.  Laughter is like good medicine.  All of your time spent with others need not be serious.  Take the time to have some light-hearted moments.  Learn to be real with your people.  Share humorous times with your people and be willing to laugh at yourself when appropriate.  Bonds are strengthened and productivity increased when people have smiles on their faces and laughter in their voices. Love your people.  Genuinely loving and caring for your people with more than words is a noble part of being a leader.  Loving your people tells them they are of great value.  Caring for them tells them they are more than an employee or volunteer.  Some are harder to love than others; but all need to be loved. When deadlines, finances and government restrictions call your attention away from those you lead, don’t forget that relationship building strengthens your leadership.  Remember these three things: learn from your people, laugh with your people and love your people.    
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In the Olympic Games, sprinters are considered the fastest men and women in the world.  But let’s imagine that an Olympic sprinter competes in a mini-marathon against a long distance runner.  With blazing speed the sprinter will race out to an amazing early lead.  But eventually the sprinter will be passed by the long distance runner. For 440 yards, the quarter horse will beat almost any other breed.  But when the quarter horse competes at a longer distance, like the human sprinter, it will eventually fall behind.  Both the human and equine sprinters have extreme acceleration for a short distance.  But if the race is much longer than a sprint, both will be passed by their competitors. Leadership has sprinters and long distance runners.  Which one do you think has the best chance of success?  When leading change, which type of leader will more than likely produce positive results?  Which type of leader are you?  When you become a long distance runner in the task of fulfilling leadership responsibilities, it is then that you will be like Marathon Oil Company which advertised itself as, “Best in the long run.” I will be happy to assist you and your people with training or coaching.
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Rock, opera, bluegrass or more could be added to the title of this communication. Persons who compose and perform these differing styles of music have found their place in the world of music. Occasionally, a rock musician will play or write bluegrass. But his or her strength is the rock genre. Occasionally, a classical guitarist might play jazz. But his or her strength is classical. When it comes to leadership, each person has a style in which he or she is most comfortable and most productive. However, just as a musician occasionally has to play a style other than his or her own, leaders must be able to "play differen styles." The wise leader knows when a different style is needed. But to be able to operate in other styles, the leader must first identify and perfect his or her style of leadership. Make sure you know your style. Take time to perfect your style. Then you will be able to move back and forth among various styles of leadership as the climate in your organization changes.    
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If you as a leader do not know where you are going, how will others know?  If you as a leader do not know what you are doing, how will others know? It is difficult for others to follow if the leader does not know where he or she is going.  It is difficult for others to follow when the one they follow does not know what he or she is doing. How will they know? They will know when you know.  When a leader has clear purpose and direction, others are more likely to follow.  Before anyone can lead effectively, he or she must know what they are doing and where they are going.  In one of her recordings, Whitney Houston asks, “How will I know…?”  Her question concerns matters of romance but the message is still the same.  People need to know.  People want to know. To be an effective leader, I encourage you to make sure you know where you are going and what you will do when you get there.
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© 2015 Mark T. Sorrels Lawn mower leadership! What in the world could that be? The idea of lawn mower leadership comes from my days as sales manager at a John Deere store. At that time John Deere manufactured a series of commercial front mowers call the “F” series. There was the F525, F725, F735, F935 and the larger F1145 and F1445. Some were available with gasoline engines only. Some were available with gasoline or diesel engines and some where available with diesel only. The unique feature of these mowers was the rear wheels were designed to swivel in such a way that they followed the exact track as the front wheels. Therefore, when turning, the rear end of the unit never swung beyond the width of the front wheels. The benefit for the purchaser was the back of the unit never rammed into buildings, fences or flower beds. This design gave birth to the sales and marketing phrase, “The tail follows the trail.” Now that you know about the F Series commercial mowers, what is the connection between them and leadership? Good leadership makes a path so clear that followers have no trouble when turns or curves must be navigated. Good leadership lays down such a definitive trail that followers never swerve off the path because like the rear wheels of the F Series, they are following the exact trail of the leader.  Lawn mower leadership calls you and me to provide the type of inspirational leadership that without question allows the tail to follow the trail. I would count it an honor to help you and your people. Please let me know how I may be of assistance.
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(c) 2015 Mark T. Sorrels As a child I enjoyed connecting dots on a page that when completed resulted in an image which then could be colored. These "dot to dot" pages were often published in coloring books. Part of the excitement that accompanied this exercise was trying to figure out what the picture would look like when I had finished. As a child, I could not beforehand see what the end result would be. All I saw were many black dots on a white page. But a mature individual could look at the page and immediately know if the finished image was a dog, airplane, kite or some other image that would appeal to children. Effective leadership calls for maturity and a level head. The effective leader must not only be able to connect the dots, but also must be able to see the big picture in its completed form before the actual connecting begins. This is called vision. Being able to see the completed project before it begins allows the leader to know which dots need to be connected. Without this vision, the leader cannot take the club, group or corporation great distances. Think like a leader. Take a look at the big picture, not only the dots. The words of the missionary Paul to the church at Corinth certainly apply when he said, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I  reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me" (I Corinthians 13:11 NIV).
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Sometimes it is worthwhile to step back, look at how business has been conducted over the years, look at the far future horizon and think about how to change the conduct of business now so that the value being created for all in that future time is as great as possible. This article suggests a wide-angle lense approach to creating that future. It also says narrow-minded, short term and inward-focused business conduct should be abandoned - even though some good value has been created over the years. It is yesterday's best "paradigm," and we offer the best future way of thinking and behaving - the new "paradigm." This article also offers a comment about how some leading thinkers are currently addressing value creation. The way they are advising the local and global business world, while indeed understandable, is prolonging this yesterday's "paradigm" problem. The "paradigm" problem is that profit - the more the better - has been taught and accepted by most as the primary or only purpose of business.  The late Professor Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago, and others, presented this idea in the 1960s. Professor Friedman himself presented it famously in the New York Times in September, 1970 and continued to preach it up to the turn of the century. This profit fixation has been taught in business schools and, even though companies and some globally known CEOs say that profit as a purpose is dumb, their behavior says just the opposite.  And, the investment banking and Wall Street community largely still clings to this profit-focused "paradigm" flaw. Profit-Focused Paradigm Flaw? Precisely. Even in these times of concepts like sustainability, conscious capitalism, creating shared value and other proposals, bringing value to other primary stakeholders (customers of course, and employees, suppliers, communities where the business is and the general public interest) is still used as means to an end – the end of creating value only for shareholders. As long as boards and leaders use outward and long term focus as instrumental, they will fail the shareholders (and the organization’s other primary stakeholder groups) over the long run, by fostering creation of less value than the companies have the potential to create. What Is The Answer? The answer is to adopt a mindset (a new paradigm) that is: a. Dominantly long term, (board room to boiler room), b. Primary stakeholder-focused (customers, employees, investors, suppliers, communities in which the companies have a presence and the general public interest), and c. Value-optimizing for each primary stakeholder group, relative to each of the others. More detail about this essential 21st century dominant mindset can be found atwww.jackhaffey.blogspot.com . Importantly here though, we can summarize: The highest nature of people, applied to their role as markets, is such that where and when they see companies conducting themselves in accordance with this new "paradigm," embracing the six or seven globally ubiquitous virtues people share (peoples from all around the world), treasuring the three or four universally possessed unalienable rights of people and fully acting out their fiduciary responsibilities toward each of their primary stakeholder groups (not just their shareholders), people (markets) will virtually always vote with their hearts, minds and feet and move toward, lean into and buy from such companies. Transformative Concepts, Seminal Concepts and Disruptive Concepts or Technologies. For a concept to be transformative or seminal - or disruptive - on any subject or area of life in which an existing paradigm has been not only dominant but almost idolized for so long, it must break away from the core of the old paradigm – in this case profit-centrism and short-termism – and present an actionable and entirely new paradigm.  We do that here. To understand it fully, to flesh out the summary above please go to the two most recent posts (October 20, 2014 and July 15, 2014) at the blog site link above.  All companies and organizations, including governments, that do change, embrace and make this new paradigm their own will no longer fall short (sub-optimize) but rather will optimize. And, the long term result will include, as an outcome, creation of the highest level of wealth over the long run – for society and themselves. This is what Adam Smith was trying to teach 250 years ago. Very few have made him proud since, but this new paradigm in action would make him proud. This note has not discussed the string of “my bads” of the last 20 plus years, like the 2007-’08 great recession, the Enron behavior, etc., because we need not. Rather, we offer the going forward mindset that will make the likelihood of such “my bads” go toward zero in the future. Agree or disagree? Call us and we can wrestle it to the ground :-).
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I applaud Bell Canada for its year-long initiative to end mental illness stigma in the workplace. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness.” What excuse do they give their supervisors for their absence? Surely not mental illness!  According to one survey, only 23% of Canadians would feel comfortable talking to their employer about mental illness.  There are many more who are suffering silently. How you can create a mentally health workplace in 2015 includes comprehensive, well-informed approaches to prevention, promotion and anti-stigma initiatives. Y Here’s how Bell Canada is doing it: 1.      LANGUAGE MATTERS

·         Words can help…but they can also hurt. Pay attention to the words you use.

  2.      EDUCATE YOURSELF

·         Myths exist about mental illness that contribute to stigma. Learn the facts.

  3.      BE KIND

·         Small acts of kindness speak volumes.

·
HOW YOU CAN HELP

·         Don’t stand by if someone is being labelled or bullied.

·         Treat a person who has a mental illness with the kindness and care you give to people with other illnesses through a friendly smile, a helping hand, a phone call or visit.

LISTEN AND ASK

4.    TALK ABOUT IT

·         Start a dialogue, not a debate


HOW YOU CAN HELP

·         Break the silence. Talk about how mental illness touches us all in some way directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of lived experience are the best way to help eradicate stigma.

·         Support mental health and anti-stigma programs in your community.

. See Bell Canada’s video series for more information.  
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(c) 2015 Mark T. Sorrels Every leader influences someone; some for good and some for bad. A noble leader works to make sure his or her influence is positive and helps others grow personally and professionally. Never underestimage the reach of your influence. Your leadership not only influences lives today, it has the potential to reach lives in the next generation. This is the first of three communications concerning your influence. One way leaders influence the lives of others is through presence. Your physical presence among your people is of just as much value as many other aspects of leadership. Your presence among your people allows them to see you as a real human being. When you are regularly among you people, they begin to understand that you have struggles, heartache and conflict in your life. They begin to understand that you have joy and courage. Your presence among your people allows them to bond with you on a deeper level that increases the value of your leadership among them. You need not be formally teaching, instructing or inspiring them. To strengthen the bonds and increase the value of your leadership, do not neglect the personal element of leadership that comes from spending time with your people.
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