Archives for category: Inspiration

In his seminal work,  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey introduced his philosophy on empathic communication…Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Dr. Covey notes that there are five types of listening: Ignoring, Pretending, Selective, Attentive and Empathic.

Exceptional communicators strive to achieve that pinnacle stage of becoming an empathic listener, i.e. “putting yourself in the other person’s proverbial shoes”. This means paying attention to the level that we truly understand their feelings and emotions.

The physical act of hearing is different that the mental act of listening. Listening with empathy requires a concerted effort to commit your undivided attention to the speaker. Sounds easy, does hard!

Fortunately, we can develop the skills to become better listeners, and communicators.

One technique that has helped me improve in this area is to conscientiously “listen with my eyes.” By maintaining comfortable and consistent eye contact with the speaker, it helps me to focus on them and to better concentrate on the message they are trying to deliver.

listen eyes

 

Bruce the BossWhile observing Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I observed “The Boss” as a genuine and caring leader in action.

Bruce exhibited multiple leadership traits, including:

  1. demonstrate great passion for what you’re doing and how you do it
  2. create a fun working environment for all stakeholders involved
  3. surround yourself with the best talent available (his E-Street band includes awesomely skilled musicians)
  4. exhibit non-stop high energy that creates infectious enthusiasm
  5. be unselfish and empower your team to perform their part
  6. appreciate and acknowledge the importance of everyone on the team

Not surprisingly, the majority of this tribe has been together for decades, following the same leader with an unrivaled camaraderie and success that most leadership could only dream of achieving!

While reading the June 2014 edition of Men’s Health magazine, I came across an article by CNN New Day anchor Chris Cuomo, son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo.

My followers know that I typically focus on leadership in business, and as I read the insights from Chris in “What My Pop Taught Me”, it dawned on me that the “life lessons” that Chris had learned from his father had an amazing correlation to ideals that can easily be applied toward great leadership.

Here’s a recap of those 5 ideals, and their key foundations.

  • It’s okay to ask for help.
    • Find someone with knowledge and help that you can benefit from.
  • Work hard at everything.
    • Hard work is a requirement, not an extra.
  • Listen to that voice inside.
    • Follow your gut, even if it means being unpopular.
  • Don’t wallow in self-pity.
    • Trouble will come, you will have failures. You can’t control that, but what you can control is how you handle it!
  • Always show compassion.
    • Dedicate your energies to something bigger than yourself.

Cuomo

Maintaining a positive work environment goes a long way toward improved productivity, energy, employee retention…and having fun at what you’re doing.

Leadership includes an obligation to create enthusiasm, despite what may be occurring in either your personal life, professional world, or both!  On some days, you may have life challenges that potentially drain you and make it hard to “plug it in” as that high energy role model.

When I find myself approaching a less-than-desirable emotional state, realizing the negative effect that has on myself as well as those around me, I attempt to catch myself and quickly “recalibrate.”

This entails a simple ten second “time-out” where I relax my body, take a few deep breaths, and change my thought pattern toward all that I have and all that I am blessed with.

The quote below is a good reminder for anyone when they find themselves going in a negative direction.

Koenig

 

 

 

 

Bruce the BossWhile observing Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I observed “The Boss” as a genuine and caring leader in action.

Bruce exhibited multiple leadership traits, including:

  1. demonstrate great passion for what you’re doing and how you do it
  2. create a fun working environment for all stakeholders involved
  3. surround yourself with the best talent available (his E-Street band includes awesomely skilled musicians)
  4. exhibit non-stop high energy that creates infectious enthusiasm
  5. be unselfish and empower your team to perform their part
  6. appreciate and acknowledge the importance of everyone on the team

Not surprisingly, the majority of this tribe has been together for decades, following the same leader with an unrivaled camaraderie and success that most leadership could only dream of achieving!

Simple question: can you get more done by doing it all yourself…or…by enlisting your entire team and giving them the ability to utilize their talents, make decisions and help move your organization toward it’s objectives?

Unbelievably, I’ve seen many managers fall into the trap of thinking they must perform many tasks on their own, believing they can do it quicker or more efficiently.  Perhaps in the short term, but in the long run, this creates constricted and limited performance.

Leaders must understand what each of their people does well, and then DELEGATE to, and EMPOWER, every individual to go EXECUTE.  Not only does this improve operational efficiency, but it provides growth and self-satisfaction opportunities for the employee.

Throughout my career, when subordinates came to me with questions, I wanted to challenge their abilities.  I would often ask them “What do you think you should do?”.  Unless their thought process was completely out of bounds, I would tell them to go do it, and let’s see how it works.

95 % of the time their solution was just fine, and the other 5%, we learned from it!

People will surprise you with their results if you just tell them what to do, and let them figure out how to do it.

Don’t misunderstand.  Leaders must still “inspect what they expect“, monitor progress and course-correct as needed.  However, they don’t have to do it all on their own.

Heck, the results from the empowered person will often turn out better than what the leader would have achieved!

Maxwell empowerment

As each year ends, my wife and I go through an exercise wherein we review our journals from the prior year, reflect on what we have, and in some cases have not, accomplished.

The end goal is to establish what our “top-ten highlight reel” might look like for the year gone by…we are typically amazed by all that has been achieved.

A post-exercise routine of comparing our respective “top-tens” is not only fun, but also provides a barometer for how well our values and beliefs are aligned, i.e. what’s truly important to each of us. It further reinforces the many blessings we have in our lives and the people and events that are shaping our destiny.

Further, this practice helps to create positive feelings and an inner-state that tends to energize a constructive planning effort for what we would like to realize during the upcoming year.

If nothing else, take time to reflect on your core values and guiding principles; and reignite your internal flame by establishing some meaningful, challenging and achievable goals to shoot for entering this new year.

New Year

 

Mark Twain stated that “the two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.”

In discussing people’s “careers” with them, there is a consistent pattern of dissatisfaction with their work.  Whether it’s the “job” itself, the compensation, the boss, the lack of meaning, or whatever else, they are merely dragging themselves to a world they dislike for the sake of “collecting a paycheck.”

If you think in terms of committing  between twenty to forty years of your life “earning a living”, why not spend that time doing something you have a love or desire for???

There are countless stories about people who were fed up and took a chance to pursue their passions, chased that dream…and became very successful in the process.

Take a moment to reflect on your situation, and ask yourself if this is really what you want to do with your life?  Happiness is waiting out there…

career vs job

We learn and grow by doing, being and taking chances.  To sit idly on the sidelines without adventure is to squander the gift of existence.

In both life and leadership, we make decisions on a daily basis that impact our lives, as well as the lives of others.  We are hopeful that the knowledge we have gained in the past, coupled with using our best judgment today will yield an optimal result.

However, in reality, things don’t always play out the way we had hoped or planned!  It is from those experiences that we gain additional wisdom, and perhaps do better with the next decision-making opportunity.

Cherish the mistakes that you (and others) have made, seize those as learning moments, exercise forgiveness (to yourself and to others), and press forward to make a difference in this world…you are being judged!

will-rogers

During an interview with Scott Pelley, former President Bill Clinton was reflecting on challenges during his time in office, and noted that his friend Nelson Mandela stayed by his side, always remaining supportive, and stating that “our morality does not allow us to desert our friends”.

As I reflect on my decades in business, I can recall numerous occasions where a superior, peer or subordinate has erred or fallen from grace. How quickly they are shunned, criticized, released or forgotten about…as if they had suddenly lost their worth and value, no longer an important and meaningful part of the world’s equation.

In the spirit of humanity, and love, so eloquently advocated by Mr. Mandela, let this serve as a reminder that everyone matters, regardless of events that have occurred.

It is not only a reflection of genuine leadership but also of personal respect that we strive to conduct ourselves in a manner that preserves the dignity of others, especially when they have fallen.

Another leadership and life lesson, to be the caring person the world needs you to be, courtesy of “Madiba”.

Mandela fall