Effective Communication

Image provided by Modern Contractor Solutions

Image provided by Modern Contractor Solutions

“Communicators take something complicated and make it simple.” – John C. Maxwell

Effective Communication

The word “Communicate” finds it roots in the Latin word, communicare – to impart, participate

Merriam-Webster shows the definition of “Communicate” as, “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common sense of symbols, signs, or behavior.

In my life we have had one United States President who was nicknamed, “The Great Communicator”, that was Ronald Reagan!  What was it that made Ronald Reagan such a great communicator?  I am sure there are many nuances that can be discussed. For this article I will focus on four key elements of his effective communication. 

-          Simplicity – His message was never complicated, nor complex; however, it also was not easy.  It takes great effort, skill, and diligence to prepare a message that will truly be effective.

-          Know the Audience – He spoke directly to the citizens of the United States.  When there was a serious message to convey, he did not rely on others but spoke plainly to those of us who could and would watch him on television.

-          Show the Truth – It was clear that he believed that his message was true for him and his audience.  He lived by the convictions that motivated the words he used while communicating.

-          Seek a Response – Ronald Reagan urged those who listened, to put into action the steps that would be needed to accomplish the goals he communicated. 

I know that there are times that I can use a lot of words, but not say a whole lot.  Effective communication is more than just sharing words.  As leaders, we need to be thoughtful, seek simplicity, have integrity, and prompts others to action in our communication efforts.  Ask yourself, how will you ensure effective communication in all areas of your life?

New Beginnings and Success

Originally Published December 3rd, 2017

Originally Published December 3rd, 2017

So, where do I start? I could start from the beginning, but which beginning? I cannot tell you much about the beginning of my life, as I was well protected and still forming in the care and protection of my mother's womb. I cannot tell you much about my youth that would be of interest others on this particular thread. I could tell you about the beginning of my career, my family, my political interests, or much more. Perhaps all of this can be shared later, under separate topics.

Let's begin with today. Each day has an opportunity for new beginnings. Many of us are told this many times in our lives. Today, I want to begin sharing through a series of thoughts about "success". The word "success" covers a broad spectrum of thoughts, categories, ideas, and perceptions. I cannot hope to cover all of the areas of "success" in a life-time. I can seek to uncover some areas where we can all be involved in successful enterprise solutions.

In our Western heritage and culture, and our Capitalistic leaning economy, a large number of individuals have the opportunity to be involved in the success of a company, an enterprise, or an organization. These successes are not isolated to owners, proprietors, or those holding an executive office. These successes are not without pitfalls along the journey (and I can assure you I have had plenty of pitfalls). I am not holding myself up as the picture or model of success. I am hoping to share success stories in business settings, that will instruct, motivate, and inspire others who need help in striving toward success. Success is a journey that one will never complete, less they become complacent and have a fall from grace. It is not a series of sprints, but rather a marathon which requires endurance. Striving for success may cause you to get bumped and bruised, you may fall down and will need help getting up. Success is not defined by lack of failure, but rather by consistently learning with humility, from failure and improving as you continue to move forward.

I want to be clear here. I am focusing on organizational (or enterprise) success, but much of success in one area can and does lead to success in other areas. People, if they are authentic, do not change who they are as they enter or leave their work domain. I am convinced that those who are authentic have the greatest opportunity for true, long-term success. I am interested in drawing attention to striving for success and learning through the struggles and failures along that path.

Footnote:

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/

What Is Success In The Workplace?

Originally Published December 10, 2017

Originally Published December 10, 2017

In last week’s post, I mentioned that the ongoing theme for these articles is about, “successful enterprise solutions”. I thought it would be a good idea to describe the intent of this phrase. As with the word “success”, the phrase “enterprise solutions” can have a variety of meanings. For the foreseeable future, I will be using, “successful enterprise solutions” as any solution (human, mechanical, technological, or otherwise) which can be implemented in an enterprise (private, public, government, or even volunteer run) to further the success of that enterprise and the people who thrive in their workplace.

As these article progress, there will be interviews with individuals who have experienced success at a variety of levels. I will strive to have conversations with business owners, executive level leadership, project manager, subject matter experts, and more. I have been privileged to hear and partake in many conversations where people have reflected on success in the workplace. Most of those who have the greatest success are those who love. They love what they do, who they are, where they live, their role in the organization, and mostly the cohorts with whom they work shoulder-to-shoulder. They will come from a variety of functions within an organization. Many love the people they are responsible to manage, others love the feeling of success when accomplishing the difficult tasks, most strive for excellence and want to share their passion with those around them.

The reader may find that these articles are focused on successful enterprise solutions, but the success is mostly a result of the people who are working the solutions and making them better every day. Success is not necessarily about automation, although automation may certainly help. Success will never be perfection, if perfection is the goal the outcome will likely be one of two possibilities:

1) If one perceives that perfection is obtained, they stop striving to get better

2) Once one observes that perfection is unobtainable, they will lose drive and determination

Successful enterprise solutions are mostly found in organizations that strive for excellence and are primarily motivated by compassion and love for those who work there. 

I hope that the reader is not “hearing” what I am not saying. A successful enterprise should seek out solutions that drive labor efficiency, promote creative genius, pursue increased market share, and add to their bottom line. All organizations should be focused on properly stewarding the resources at hand. Privately held, or publicly traded companies should strive to be profitable. If a company can help raise the standard of living for all of those employed there, or find a way to prevent layoffs during an economic downturn, these actions go a long way in showing the loving care that ownership and/or the executive team has for those who share their vision.

There are a lot of great organizations, large and small. I hope to highlight, encourage, and motivate those who would read these articles. My goal is to show the authentic struggles and triumphs in the lives of those who provide, implement, direct, manage, or in any other capacity currently work with successful enterprise solutions.

Footnote:

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/

Success Story – Huey-Tien Tan

Originally Published December 17, 2017

Originally Published December 17, 2017

In my previous two articles, the foundation for this series was set. Now I get to the fun part! We get to hear from people who are out in the world, making a difference, working with and implementing successful enterprise solutions. The first person that I get to introduce is Huey-Tien Tan (https://www.linkedin.com/in/hueytien/). Starting with Huey-Tien is an honor as she, to this day, still has a profound impact on my success. Let’s start with some background on how I know Huey-Tien. 

March 1st, 1998, I was privileged to begin employment at J.D. Edwards (a company that was purchased by PeopleSoft in 2003 and within less than a week Oracle announced that it would take over PeopleSoft). This was when the OneWorld Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software was in it’s infancy. That product is now known as EnterpriseOne. Huey-Tien had already established herself as one of the first and best support staff for a new administrative role, coined by J.D. Edwards – Configurable Network Computing (CNC). Huey-Tien was among the first group of 4, who were the only ones in the world to be given the title of J.D. Edwards CNC Professional. This term of a J.D. Edwards CNC is far more than just a normal ERP System Administrator. A J.D. Edwards CNC professional needs to be able to perform Database Administrator (DBA), Operating System (OS) administration, WebLogic and/or WebSphere administration, network configuration and administration, and many other technical tasks required to ensure that the software is communicating with the database using the right ports while also working with the Java Application Server (JAS) interface, and ensure that the software middleware is properly configured to handle expected user load.

Fast-forward to December 2017 and Huey-Tien has mastered the J.D. Edwards CNC skills like few others have. She really is a solution architect and can troubleshoot EnterpriseOne problems with precision, speed, and accuracy. 

The J.D. Edwards software is the enterprise solution that has provided Huey-Tien with an unparalleled measure of success. This is true for her personal career, and for those companies with which she has worked over the years.  Having over 20 years’ experience with the product her experience vast.

Huey-Tien now calls Oshkosh her professional home and has been a Sr. Technical Analyst for Oshkosh (https://www.oshkoshcorp.com/) since August of this year.

When I asked Huey-Tien how she defines success, she shared that she thinks of success in two ways:

  • Becoming a subject matter expert (SME) to the point where +90% of any difficulty that may be experienced with the product is something that she can resolve without any assistance from the vendor (Oracle in this case). Over the years, as the EnterpriseOne software has been advanced by Oracle, to keep up with leading business technology, Huey-Tien has been able to keep up with how to implement the latest technology solutions (i.e. Internet of Things, Application Integration Service, Mobile Applications, etc.).

    Before Huey-Tien was a Sr. Technical Analyst for Oshkosh, she did a lot of work as a consultant. In this role, the second way she defined success was when a client would seek her out for additional work after a successful project. She saw the biggest compliment that she could have as a consultant was that the client would hand her a project charter and goals (unsolicited), and give her the freedom to define the details of the scope and implementation timeline.

When asked if should could share who would be one mentor that she would attribute to having a huge influence on her success, she did not hesitate to point out Allen Jacot. Allen was her cohort at J.D. Edwards and was also among those first 4 to ever learn how to be a J.D. Edwards CNC Professional. Huey-Tien mentioned that when she decided to go out on her own as a consultant, Allen handed her the first engagement and coached her to success through the experience. Allen has always made himself available for Huey-Tien.

Consistent to what was mentioned in earlier articles, Huey-Tien wants to clarify that she does not see success as anything that is a final destination. It is the accomplishment of the next goal that you have set before you, and as you reach that goal it is time to set the next goal for growth.

Footnote:

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/

John Bassett - Success Story

Originally Published December 22, 2017

Originally Published December 22, 2017

In the middle of the Midwest state of Ohio, just a bit north of center, you will find the small town of Mansfield. This small, and thriving metropolis is home to a number of great finds. Among them is one of the founders of a consulting firm with a reputation of being a “best of breed” in the core competencies of their foundation. John Bassett (https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-bassett-a23328111/) grew up in the Midwest and still calls that region home. A graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Management Information Systems.

John began his professional career working with a loan origination/title software company, helping to develop their software solution. He then had a stint as a Novell Certified professional setting up Wide Area Networks (WANs) and Local Area Networks (LANs). This included coding for fire alarm systems that had to maintain operational integrity in the event of loss of a user interface to trigger the alarms. From there he became a network administrator for a company that ran JD Edwards software. These roles among others has now led him to being a principle owner and CTO for Global Systems Integrations, Inc., also known as GSI (www.getgsi.com). 

The history of GSI is very interesting and there will be additional opportunities to get more insight into its foundation from the other two principles in other articles. From John’s perspective he started as an independent contractor in 2004 under the company label of Enterprise Solutions of Ohio. Through that experience he connected with Shawn Scanlon in 2006 to form Enterprise Solution Partners (ESP). This is where he first experienced the need to hire team members, grow a company to sustain payroll, and begin to lead people. In 2008 ESP merged with Global Systems Integrations, Inc. and the three principles have been driving a successful partnership for 9 years now.

Currently, as CTO of GSI, John has responsibilities of co-leading this company that is closer to a mid-sized organization and has been recognized twice by Inc. 5000 Magazine as a “fastest growing company” in the America. However, even now, he sees one of the greatest successful enterprise solutions of his career has little to do with an actual software implementation and is more focused on giving to and sharing with others. He was a primary catalyst in the formation of what has now become a series of free WebCasts provided by GSI that include topics around JD Edwards (functional use and administration), NetSuite, Database Administration, RapidReconciler, Cloud services, and Salesforce administration. John is quick to credit other key people in making these WebCasts a success. What he does not say (but I will), is that his leadership draws others to him and helps others around him want to see his visions come to success. That is what has been a major contributor to this solution of successful, free WebCasts.

I asked John to give me the name of one person who has had a significant, professional influence for him. He mentioned Thomas Schwab (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-schwab-7606326/) who now serves as President of Solutions and Services for Encore Technology Group. The way Thomas communicates with others in a professional setting is something that John seeks to put into practice when interacting with those around him.

Footnote:

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/

Success Story – Shawn Scanlon

Originally Published December 31, 2017

Originally Published December 31, 2017

We all know one of these people. They are the ones, who always greet you with a smile, a firm handshake, and an embrace. Their good nature and sense of humor are contagious. It is in their DNA to connect with others in a friendly, disarming manner. This is the epitome of Shawn Scanlon (https://www.linkedin.com/in/esperp/).   Shawn is a 1998 graduate of Michigan State University, with a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Engineering and one of the principle founders of Global Systems Integrations, Inc. (www.getgsi.com) AKA GSI. GSI, under the three principle owners, is rightfully ranked as one of the top consulting and managed services firms within their core competencies. 

Early on in Shawn’s professional development he worked in small companies with the role of “Network Administrator”. He did not wait until he was done with his degree to enter the workforce as a IT professional. As many of us who grew into our IT careers starting in the 1990s through today, we all know that this kind of role in a small to mid-sized company almost always entails tasks and duties beyond the title. So, yes Shawn learned and was involved in building out networks for corporate computing, but he was also instrumental in implementing data centers, building web-site content, developing and supporting software solutions (i.e. CAD, home-grown towing and transportation solutions, etc.), and mapping out IT services for corporate acquisitions.

In the year 2000 Shawn was hired at JD Edwards, went through their 2 week “Expedition: Install and Configure B7331” immersion training, and became a Configurable Network Computing (CNC) consultant in the mid-west region for JD Edwards. Shawn quickly realized that as someone beginning in this role, he did not have all the answers, and needed help along the way. Clients were paying a significant amount of money for the job that was expected to be completed with efficiency and effective results. This is the time where his network within the JD Edwards community had it foundation. Shawn is quick to give credit to individuals like Chris Haraf (https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-haraf-b4261a5/) who would always answer when called, Michael Guerra (https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-guerra-621695/) who had written many of the initial technical documents for OneWorld CNC and also answered whenever his phone rang, and Gurbinder Bali (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gurbinderbali/) who was instrumental in helping Shawn understand the nuances with the HTML installation and configuration. This is just to names a few of the many individuals who Shawn looks to as keys to his success. 

Shawn took the step, in 2004 to become an independent CNC consultant under the company name of Enterprise Solutions Providers. As a sole proprietor, he learned some valuable lessons about business. Many of those took him out of his comfort zone and he had to learn to make sure he found a way to get the tasks done, build relationships, document processes, and connect with others who needed the skills he provided. He also found the value of partnerships. In 2006 he partnered with John Basset (https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-bassett-a23328111/). In this partnership, John and Shawn built a small business, hiring a handful of consultants and some administrative help. In July 2008, Shawn and John expanded the partnership and join with Kevin Herrig (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-r-herrig-ab8292a/). These three are the principle founders/owners of GSI as it is today.

Currently as Executive Vice President of GSI, Shawn is working to help expand GSI’s consulting and managed services offerings for NetSuite. I would highly recommend going out to the GSI website (https://www.getgsi.com/netsuite-webinars) to see some of the exiting things GSI is doing with this emergy practice.

When asked about success stories, he wanted to share some key lessons learned from the successes he has experienced. His success was more about the people with whom he had connected and less about his own accomplishments. Here are some lessons Shawn shared from successful experiences:

  • If you want your team to succeed, help them find solutions to difficult problems and let them take all of the credit...help others become the subject matter experts

  • Be persistent in seeking to find the resolution to those technical issues that others cannot seem to locate, and do not hesitate to escalate issues as necessary

  • Finding the right people with whom to work; make sure they share your vision and passion, are compatible with your team, and driven by a desire for excellence

  • Understand that difficult times will arise and there will be struggles, some struggles may seem insurmountable, stick to what you know is right, through it all

  • Be willing to take risks and allow others to push you beyond what you thought was possible

As GSI’s NetSuite practice grows, Shawn has been given the opportunity to lead that charge. Knowing that there will be many lessons to learn, he is excited by what the future has in store. This is just one more example where he gets the opportunity to take a risk, find the right people, help others be successful, and guide those who seek to find resolutions to difficult problems.

Shawn credits many people who have mentored him. He looks to John Bassett who took the initial leap-of-faith to partner with Shawn as he left JD Edwards. John and Shawn invested together in ESP and began hiring their first employees. Chirs Haraf and Michael Guerra spend countless hours with Shawn early on in his career as a CNC at JD Edwards and was critical in helping him overcome the obstacles he had learning JD Edwards from scratch. Kevin Herrig is the catalyst that pushes Shawn out of his comfort zone, provides mentoring and helps him to succeed. Additionally, he credits David Telford (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dwtelford/) as the manager that took a chance and hired him on at JD Edwards in 2000 when Shawn had never heard of a JD Edwards as a product and didn’t even know an AS/400 existed.

You can learn more about Shawn by following him on LinkedIn and going out to www.getgsi.com to see what is going on these days at Global Systems Integrations, Inc.

Footnote:

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/

Success Story - Sandeep Dixit

Originally Published January 7, 2018

Originally Published January 7, 2018

Success Story – Sandeep Dixit

Ask yourself this question, “What is leadership?”. There are likely just about as many answers as there are readers of this article. From my perspective, leadership is much more an art than it is a science. We can study the science of management in our colleges and universities. Nearly every university in the United States has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Masters of Science in Management (MSM), or some other variation of a master’s program that will teach about managing a business. Good and well defined practices of business management are important. 

I would suggest that leadership far outweighs good management practices. Leaders are those who inspire, show authentic care for, and connect with others. I have heard it said, by those who love their leaders, that they would follow those leaders to the gates of Hell, if that is what it took to help accomplish the leader’s goals.

I met Sandeep Dixit (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandeep-dixit-8595222/) in 2010 when we worked together on a project. My involvement with that project was less than 2 weeks, but in that time Sandeep left a lasting impression and influence. Through the course of our conversation that we had just this past week, I still experienced his genuine care for me. This care that Saneep shows is a chief attribute of a great leader, someone who loves others and loves helping others strive for significance.

Sandeep had his formal education in India. His undergraduate degree was earned and Delhi University (http://www.du.ac.in/du/), and his post-graduate degree is from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (https://www.icai.org/). He has worked for companies in India, Dubai, Canada, and the United States.

Sandeep is quick to state that success is a journey and not a destination, it is a life of striving for excellence. In looking back on his career, he clarified that he did not seek out the occasion to move from one company to the next over the years, but the opportunities were presented to him and he felt that it was in the best interest for him and his family that he pursued them. He is now stepping into the role of an entrepreneur and has set before himself a new set of challenges. He did have other offers to be employed with other organizations, but Sandeep really wanted to pursue his passions. He believes he can add the most value to businesses where their leadership is striving to be at the forefront of their industry while mitigating their risk in this ever-growing world of technology. Sandeep believes that he can provide a greater level of accomplishment for clients if can focus on his own methodology and approach. He also is confident that he can provide a more competitive price for these services.

Sandeep will be focusing on helping companies work through their digital transformation. His initial, primary areas of strength are dealing with risk management closely tied to fraud identification/protection. He has set a goal for himself to have a team of 4 – 5 individuals working from a an office space, all by the end of 2018. Sandeep has already laid the groundwork for his new endeavor by spending time making connections in India, Canada and the US.

The enthusiasm about new technology that Sandeep sees in the Millennial generation is something that he admires and seeks to emulate. He provided an example of just how quickly his 18 year old daughter was able to learn about and teach him tricks and tips on the feature and use of his new Apple Watch. That ability and desire to embrace, and adapt to change is something that Sandeep seeks to help companies pursue. This millennial generation, which is in their early stages of joining the workforce, will be motivated to work with and for companies with a passion for innovation. This will include adoption of mainstream technology, as part of their corporate culture. Sandeep believes that this will be instrumental for growth in the global business community.

What drives Sandeep even more that wanting business success, is his desire to help others who need a “hand up” in life. He acknowledges that not everyone has the same access to success and significance that he has experienced. There are those who grow up without parents, and he wants to be able to make a difference in their lives. Among his personal relationships are people who work with non-government organizations (NGOs) that reach out to children in rural parts of India. The people in these areas are embracing newer technology at a frantic rate. They are excited to be introduced to these opportunities and have a chance to provide for their friends and families. 

At the core of who we are, a vast majority of people want significance. Throughout history, in times of war and peace, when people connect with others across cultures in a genuine, authentic, loving, caring manner we will all see that we are not that different. Our politicians and/or governments may seek to highlight areas of difference. These differences may be true of those individuals who running the countries, but are not necessarily true for the “everyday” people. Sandeep has seen how people in India, Dubai, and the Americas all want to be part of a family and/or caring group of friends. We all have the desire to be embraced emotionally and physically by one another, even when there are a differences of opinion. He noted, that in India, when you are connected to a family or group of friends, there is an open invitation that any time you visit you are welcome to stay for hours, enjoy a meal together, and know that you have been well loved before you leave their presence. These are the kinds of connections that Sandeep seeks to build with others, and will have as part of how he runs his organization.

When asked about a significant mentor in his life, Sandeep’s first thought is Brian McKenna (https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-mckenna-7ab47a2/) who is a Partner at Deloitte, Canada. Although Sandeep never reported directly to Brian, Brian took the opportunity to get to know Sandeep. Brian taught Sandeep to look at business as building relationships. It is through relationships and making genuine connections that you can display your value and grow business partnerships. 

If you are interested in getting to know more about Sandeep Dixit and where is career and aspirations are taking him, feel free to reach out and connect over LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandeep-dixit-8595222/). You will find a man who is genuine, authentic, and truly cares for those around him.

Footnote:

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/

What is Success – Words have meanings

Originally Published January 14, 2018

Originally Published January 14, 2018

“Success” – noun

1530s, "result, outcome," from Latin successus "an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome," noun use of past participle of succedere "come after, follow after; go near to; come under; take the place of," also "go from under, mount up, ascend," hence "get on well, prosper, be victorious," from sub "next to, after" (see sub-) + cedere "go, move" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield"). Meaning "accomplishment of desired end" (good success) first recorded 1580s. Meaning "a thing or person which succeeds," especially in public, is from 1882.

Throughout the history of the word “success”, it focuses on goingmovinggo near totake the place of, and various other forward thinking and goal oriented notions. There is the idea of achieving a desired end, but the meaning of this word has never been associated with quitting or halting upon reaching that desired end. 

Some have heard “success breeds success”. This phrase rings true on many levels. First, all it takes is one successful experience (no matter how small), to build the desire to experience a greater success. Understanding the work, diligence, and effort it takes to have that first taste of victory helps drive us to work even harder to feel it again and again. Second, people who want to increase their success will surround themselves with and seek advice from others who are successful. Third, those who have a history of success want to help others who are working towards greater success.

This takes us to our next word of focus.

“Leader” – noun

Old English lædere "one who leads, one first or most prominent," agent noun from lædan "to guide, conduct" (see lead (v.)). Cognate with Old Frisian ledera, Dutch leider, Old High German leitari, German Leiter. As a title for the head of an authoritarian state, from 1918 (translating Führer, Duce, caudillo, etc.). Meaning "writing or statement meant to begin a discussion or debate" is late 13c.; in modern use often short for leading article (1807) "opinion piece in a British newspaper" (leader in this sense attested from 1837). The golf course leader board so called from 1970.

The origins of the word “leader” finds its meaning tied to “one of first or most prominent”. A leader will be among the first in attempting and driving towards the completion of a goal. A leader is “to guide” or “conduct”. Who are you willing to allow in as your guide, who will help conduct your aspirations?

Now I want to put these words together, success and leader. To succeed as a leader, it is vital that the direction is consistently, “going, or moving” as well as having a passion, “to guide, conduct”. A successful leader does not stop, he or she does not see the accomplishment of a goal as the final target. They do not hold those successes to themselves, they help guide or conduct others towards success.  To be a successful leader one must convince others that there is value to move in the same direction as you (the guide). 

Compare and contrast, the next word of focus.

“Manage” – verb

1560s, probably from Italian maneggiare "to handle," especially "to control a horse," ultimately from Latin noun manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand"). Influenced by French manège "horsemanship" (earliest English sense was of handling horses), which also was from Italian. Extended to other objects or business from 1570s. Sense of "get by" first recorded 1650s. Related: Managed; managing. Managed economy was used by 1933.

Notice here that the word “manage” refers more to terms of control like, “to handle” or “to control a horse”. I bring this up to point out a vast difference between a manager and a leader. A manager has responsibilities to help make sure that certain items, tasks, or duties are accomplished and kept under control. A leader persuades, encourages, inspires followers to work towards excellence with passion and desire. Both roles are needed in corporations, but these words are not synonyms.

Someone can be a leader in their role or position and help those around them to succeed. They do not have to be a manager to be a leader. Whether you are a manager, a technical expert, or a functional guru, you will be looked to as a leader. What are you going to do with the knowledge that others see you as a leader? Will you fulfill that expectation and seek to lead? Nothing states that in order to lead someone must give the commands. Some of the best leaders in the world are also the best followers. A great military officer will listen and learn from the enlisted personnel who have proven themselves as functional experts. These functional experts have honed their skills through training and practical knowledge to the point that they are leaders in their area of expertise. 

Successful leadership is an art. If you watch an artist at work, nothing is rushed. An accomplished musician in a philharmonic orchestra will practice each piece for countless hours before performing. A skilled painter will have trained over the course of years with their medium. Likewise, great leaders never quit trying to be better at leading. Whether your artistic passions be athletics, chess, archery, or any other zeal, the desire to improve never goes away. The artist (aka leader) takes the time to learn, applies that learning, learns from the effect of that application, and seeks to learn some more about their passion.

Also, it is important to remember that leaders are not perfect. Be willing to stub your toe, scratch your elbow, or bruise your ego. Do not be afraid to lead, as those who want to follow you will do so, in spite of your scars acquired from lessons learned along the way. Have a love and care for those who look to your leadership. Fall in love with leading, not for the sake of position, but rather because you care deeply for those around you.

Footnote:

Word definitions were acquired from www.etymonline.om

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/

Success – Authentic Leadership

Originally Published January 21, 2018

Originally Published January 21, 2018

In the post last week (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-success-words-have-meanings-todd-thomsen/), there was a brief study on the origin of a few key words. That article also pointed out essential differences between leadership and management. To be clear, both are needed in successful organizations, but these two words are not synonymous. 

In this post, I want to explore a deeper understanding of leadership.  To truly succeed as a leader there must be a level of authenticity in everything you do. What does the word, “authentic” mean? According to Etyomonline, an online etymology dictionary (https://www.etymonline.com/word/authentic), its origins come from the Greek word authentikos, which means, “original, genuine, principle” and that Greek word is derived from authentes, and this means, “one acting on one’s own authority”. 

Using the origins of words often helps us get beyond our culture’s superficial meanings that we have used in business. I believe it is important to understand the true nature of what we are saying as it reflects a better understanding of what is desired in conversation or dialog. Words do indeed have more than definitions, they have meanings with heart and passion.

Now to assemble “Authentic” with “Leader”. From the previously mentioned post, which has a reference to the word “leader”, it comes from Old English lædere, or “to guide, conduct”. An authentic leader is one who is original or genuine and is a guide or one who conducts. In a high-tech world of pithy statements conveyed in 140 characters or less, it is difficult to cut through the noise of social media and connect with authentic leaders.

In the second chapter of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great there is a graphic which shows of 5 separate levels of leadership (page 20). These levels are based upon years of research and analysis of multiple companies. Jim Collins refers to business leaders like Darwin Smith (CEO of Kimberly-Clark from 1971 – 1991), Coleman Mockler (CEO of Gillette 1975 – 1991), and David Maxwell (CEO of Fannie Mae 1981 – 1990); all of whom not only helped these companies to thrive in their industries, but also left a heritage to ensure others who followed had the tools and the means to succeed. In that same chapter Jim Collins also introduces the reader to Stanley Gault (CEO of Rubbermaid 1981 – 1991). The contrast for Stanley Gault is that once he left Rubbermaid, the company did not have the tools to succeed. All four of these men were indeed good leaders and produced great results during their time of oversight. However, not all of them left a heritage within their companies that ensured success for those who would follow. The first three were focused on the success of the company long-term, and the last was focused on personal success during his tenure.

The key point in the 2nd chapter of Good to Great is to introduce the idea of what Jim Collins refers to as a “level 5 leader”. The 5 levels of leadership are building blocks, meaning that in order to be effective as a level 2 leader, one must also be effective as a level 1 leader. Through the book there is a focus on cultivating level 5 leadership, which is defined as, “Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of person humility and professional will.” This is what I mean when I refer to the term “authentic leader”.

If one is a student of leadership in the workplace, whether that be a corporation, government municipality, elected office, charitable organization, or church; this book should at least be considered as a possible cornerstone to understand true authentic leadership. As a leader, are you being authentic (humble, original, genuine)? 

Note to the reader, “Do not hear what I am not saying.” I am not stating that an authentic leader must reveal every emotion or thought that enters their mind. As a leader, if I am getting short-tempered with my cohorts, it is okay for me to apologize and explain that I was out of line and it is because I have some other issues that are bothering me. In this, I am being authentic without revealing the true source of those issues that I am experiencing. Nonetheless, this is an over simplification of being an authentic leader. My desire is to make things clear, and I am not advocating an in-genuine, overly saccharine form of leadership. A true leader must make difficult decisions, must have a drive for a culture of excellence, and must push people outside of their comfort zone. An authentic leader does not make decisions based upon the desire to have people love them, they make decisions because they love the people they lead. Sometimes, love needs to be tough and gritty.

Are you an authentic leader? Are you following an authentic leader? Are you being mentored by an authentic leader? Are you taking the time to quietly reflect on your mindset and attitude each day? What are you doing in your life to increase your leadership skills? How are you being authentic with those around you?

Footnote:

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/

Success in Leadership – Adding Value to Others

Originally Published January 28, 2018

Originally Published January 28, 2018

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group. In an interview with Inc. Richard Branson expands a little on how he puts action to this belief (https://www.inc.com/eric-schurenberg/sir-richard-branson-put-your-staff-first-customers-second-and-shareholders-third.html). Walking around, making connections with those who are in the daily activities of delivering on his vision, Richard Branson shows his genuine care for others. As he does this Richard Branson listens to feedback with humility and enthusiasm. He carries a notepad for writing notes of the suggestions provided and concerns shared. He takes the feedback from employees to heart and strives to implement the little things which shows he cares for those who work for his companies. This is the kind of leadership that turns an average company into an exceptional one.

The book, Driven to Delight by Joseph A. Michelli, chronicles the story of Mercedes-Benz USA’s (MBUSA) significant growth that occurred after dealing with some morale problems that occurred in corporate leadership from 2005 to 2006. “[R]esearch from Gallup shows that in the United States alone, productivity losses due to employee disengagement are estimated to be between $450 and $550 billion per annum.” This is a quote directly from Driven to Delight. It highlights the need for leadership within an organization to engage with and humbly listen to those who are putting into practice, the company’s vision. The leadership at MBUSA had to ask tough questions of themselves, and had to be willing to listen to the answers. The realization was that turning around the corporate morale was dependent largely on the engagement of the employees at the Mercedes-Benz dealerships. “Did those employees feel sufficiently cared for by their managers that they would exert the effort needed to delight their customers? More important, how could Mercedes-Benz USA positively enhance the engagement level of dealership employees?”

In these leadership examples, senior management members are focusing on employee engagement, and discovering the little things that drive excellence throughout the organization. They have both discovered that it is not so much about providing the best product, but providing the best employee experience for those who are willing to buy into their vision for the company. Once the employees are engaged, empowered, and feel as though their work makes a true difference, then they will have a passion for their work which will flow out in how they treat their job. Not only will the employees focus on providing the best product, the clients who use these products will hear the passion and excitement that flows naturally from someone who takes pride in their work.

Let’s not forget about those employees who are being engaged. These are the real innovators and drivers of success. If these people did not have a desire to seek improvement and excellence, there would be no feedback for senior management. These are the sales associates, subject matter experts (SMEs), technical leads, business analysts, daily operators, etc. who are on the front-lines of delivering products for their company. Leadership is not dependent upon being part of the senior management team. True leadership is a daily focus on excellence no matter what your role or position.

Providing honest feedback to members of the senior management team can be intimidating. If senior management embraces (sometimes unknowingly) a punitive culture of discipline, many will believe speaking open and honestly will cost them their job. This can mean they will struggle to put food on the table, get clothes for the family, and keep a roof over their head if giving unfavorable, honest feedback. In these cases, the opportunity for greatness gets lost in a sea of bureaucracy. These difficulties are not isolated to large or medium sized businesses. Whether you are in a company of two or thousands of people, without humble leadership throughout the organization, the full potential will never be met.

Senior management of Virgin Group and MBUSA show leadership within management can add value to their employees by listening with humility, honesty, and a true desire for excellence. They create an atmosphere of mutual respect, open engagement, and a desire to learn from each other. Employees show their leadership by adding value in striving for excellence with the daily tasks, coming up with new and better ways to deliver quality and excellence, and provide rich, authentic, positive feedback to management.

It is not necessary to have “manager”, “director”, or any other special title to be a leader and add value to others. Take some time to think about the value you are adding to others. As a parent, teacher, manager, employee, or any other role, are you seeking out honest feedback? Are you being humble when providing or asking for ways to improve? Are you following through with working on the little things that help transform an average company, team, or organization into one of excellence?

Footnote:

To follow the author on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/toddrthomsen/

For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/