Do The Right Thing - How Dedicated Employees Create Loyal Customers and Large Profits

Do the Right Thing  - How Dedicated Employees Create Loyal Customers and Large Profits

Do the Right Thing - How Dedicated Employees Create Loyal Customers and Large Profits

Many of you have heard or read about the great customer service provided by Southwest Airlines. This is a company who has and continues to set the standard in caring for their passengers. My experience with Southwest Airlines has always been positive. The ticket agents, gate agents, flight attendants, and pilots have provided me with consistent, friendly, and patient services.

I can vividly remember a time where I was dealing with many things in my mind. As I approached the baggage check-in area, I was ill prepared. Unfortunately, my attitude was not great when I spoke with the Southwest agents. Even through my poor attitude, they were undeterred and proceeded to coach me through what I needed. I ended up apologizing to both the agents and they graciously smiled accepting my apology.

Do you want some insight into why Southwest Airlines is so customer focused, and what drives them as their employees set standards that consistently exceed passenger expectations? Then you need to read this book. James F. Parker was the CEO of Southwest Airlines from June 2001 through July 2004. Before that, in 1986 he joined Southwest Airlines as General Counsel. James guided Southwest through the toughest economic turmoil, in the airline industry, during my life-time…the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the subsequent fear of ongoing air travel. Through that time of upheaval in our nation, Southwest continued to care for their employees and customers. Although the finances were tight, all salaries and bonuses were fully paid on-time for the full-time employees who were not executive level. Southwest was also the only major airline that managed to stay profitable during that stretch of difficulties.

Earlier this year (January 28th, 2019), James died unexpectedly in his home. We have all lost a great leader, and I can only image how difficult it must be for those who were close to him.

Read this book, learn the lessons of doing thing the Southwest Airlines way. The concepts apply to any industry, but how those concept are manifest will be unique to each company.

Focus in Leadership and in Life

Picture acquired from  LeadershipWatch

Picture acquired from LeadershipWatch

For years, we have been told that the ability to multi-task is essential for success in the workplace. Some leadership “experts” have likened multi-tasking to spinning plates on the end of long sticks. We have been told that the more plates you can spin, the more impressive you are as a professional. Then, after we have multiple plates spinning, we are stuck in a situation where we have to keep them all spinning all the time or we and our career like the plates will come crashing down.

Now, as I read more about leadership and personal development, I am seeing evidence from real-life scenarios and psychological studies which have proven that multi-tasking is the worst thing you can do for any kind of real, long lasting development. “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” Think about that for a moment (seriously, pause for a couple of minutes ponder the ramifications). Have you ever wondered why it is that circus lion trainers take a chair into the cage with them? When all four legs of a chair are facing the lion, the lion is trying to focus on all four legs of the chair. This causes the lion’s brain to be overwhelmed and he cannot focus on his strength…killing the prey that is in front of him.

John Maxwell, provides a recommendation on seeking to be focused in life and leadership. He has a formula or perhaps what should be called a ratio of how to focus your time as a leader.

  • 70% - Focus on your strengths

    • Everyone has areas of incompetence. Pursue your areas of strength rather than weaknesses.

  • 25% - Focus on new things

    • Spend time learning about new things that relate to your strengths. This is where you will find tremendous growth

  • 5% - Focus on areas of weakness

    • It is unavoidable that you will need to address areas of weakness. Seek to minimize the amount of time spent here

Something to consider…have you been majoring in the minors? Do you spend so much time in your areas of weakness that you lose sight of your strengths? Here are some further thoughts to consider in gaining more focus:

  • Work on yourself - You are your own greatest asset and detriment. What are you doing to help yourself?

  • Work at your priorities - List them out 3 or 4 priorities, and be clear. You are the only one who can fight for your priorities.

  • Work on your strengths - As you follow the formula listed above, you will see tremendous growth

  • Work with your contemporaries - We are all in work groups, each individual has their own strengths. You cannot be effective on your own.

Are you unsure of your strengths? Perhaps you can ask a trusted colleague. Consider purchasing, "StrengthsFinder 2.0”, better yet see if your whole team can get a copy. Go through the questions and compare/contrast the results.

It is up to you, on how to best focus your efforts in leadership and life. I have found it better to learn from those who have gone through the struggles and are willing to share their insights. Find a mentor, read a book, connect on LinkedIn with a leader whose thoughts and opinions you trust. You will find that the more you focus on your strengths in life and in leadership, the more success you will achieve.

The Heart of a Leader - Insights on the Art of Influence

The Heart of a Leader  - Insights on the Art of Influence

The Heart of a Leader - Insights on the Art of Influence

Are you a busy person, leading people who are growing as professionals or individuals? Ken Blanchard has assembled 90 snippets of insight into ways to influence yourself, and those around you.

In less than five minutes of reading a day, you can receive insight to be pondered and considered as you seek to influence those given into your care. Authors like Ken Blanchard teach us that leadership is more about influence and giving greater considerations to those whom you lead than you give for yourself. As you read each entry, take to heart the lesson. Seek to apply your learning, every day. You will find the items taught and shared in this book are pertinent and timely.

DRiVE - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates us

DRiVE  - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

DRiVE - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

As you lead, what are you doing to help motivate or inspire those around you? Do you know or understand the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and how to apply each? Are you aware of how ideas around motivation have progressed through the ages?

Daniel Pink takes the reader through the foundations of human motivation. As he progresses through human development, Daniel explains how motivational triggers have shifted into our modern times. The readers gets a glimpse into the science of how motivation may provide different responses than we are taught. Yet, so many leaders in organizations, families, and schools have struggled against what has been learned through psychological studies that are decades old.

When you read this book, think about how it applies to yourself first. How are you motivated and would these tools that are taught have any effect on you? Then think about the tasks and duties that you are handing out to individuals and how others will respond to the motivators you are providing.

Discernment in Leadership

DISCERNMENT  - Image from Pastoral Ponderings

DISCERNMENT - Image from Pastoral Ponderings

Discernment - The ability to judge well.

John Maxwell states that discernment can be described as the ability to find the root of the matter. He also notes that discernment relies on intuition as well as rational thought.

When making decisions, if we wait until all of the possible information is available, we will find ourselves behind the competition or delivering late on proposals. We need to be willing to use intuition along with the information available at the time when we make decisions that will affect those around us. These decisions will not always be flawless, but the more we step out and practice decision making in this manner, we will increase our ability to discern the right direction.

Here are some thoughts about maximizing the effectiveness of discernment in our own lives:

1) Seek the root of an issue - In many cases we may not be able to get a complete picture, so take the information available and exercise discernment in the decisions that must be made. “Organizational effectiveness…lies in the blend of clearheaded logic and powerful intuition” - Henry Mintzberg

2) Enhance your problem solving - A great way to develop and grow your ability to discern is to work and focus in your area of strength. Do not try to have all the answers to all the problems.

3) Evaluate your options for maximum impact - “Never ignore a gut feeling, but never believe that it’s enough” - Robert Heller

4) Multiply your opportunities - Be willing to follow your instincts, based upon your previous experiences. Are you willing to trust your intuition as much as you do your intellect and experience?

Do you have a mentor, leader, or historic hero in life whose discernment you trust and admire? Study those individuals, read their biography, pay attention to the reasons behind their conclusions. Ask them questions to glean from their insights. Through it all, listen to your gut feelings, they are trying to tell you something.

UNBREAKABLE - A Navy SEAL's Way of Life

UNBREAKABLE  - A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life by  Thom Shea

UNBREAKABLE - A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life by Thom Shea

We all have an internal dialog. Unless, we learn to direct that internal dialog we can find ourselves giving up when we should be persevering. When we engage our internal dialog, we need to be careful what language we listen to, and what words we use. I have found, that often in my internal dialog, I will say things that are derogatory, demoralizing, detrimental, or demeaning (you are not good enough, you just cannot do that, you are in over your head, you are a fraud, It’s too hard, etc.). If I were to speak these words to a friend, they would likely disavow our our friendship, and rightfully so. So, why do I accept this language when I speak it to myself? Are you accepting or listening to this kind of internal dialog? I understand that there is value in being our own worse critic, but why not use words that stir up responses like determination, grit, drive, and hunger for greatness?

Not only do we need to ignore the negativity that can come from internal dialog, but we also must avoid listening to words like “try”, “believe”, and “hope”. At least avoid them in the sense of how they are commonly used in today’s vernacular. For example, when we use the word “try”, we give ourselves a way out of fulfilling a commitment. Think about it, “I will try to get that report to you by the end of the day.” Does that comment convey commitment, or would the recipient of that statement have full confidence you are committed to the goal? In the above example, replace the phrase “will try to” with “believe I will”, or “hope to”. Again, would you be confident in the outcome if someone made that statement to you?

Thom Shea, walks his reader through the importance of internal dialog in this well written and extremely engaging book. The original intent of the book was to present lessons in life, and 13 challenges to his children, when he was away on deployment for our nation, in case he did not return. He and his wife wanted to make sure that their children would fully understand Thom’s heart for his children. These 13 challenges, can be incorporated into anyone’s life. I have made it through lesson 1, but only after multiple re-starts. It all begins and ends with your internal dialog.

I highly recommend that others pick up the book, read it cover to cover, address your internal dialog, work through the challenges presented. Listen to Thom Shea’s podcast UNBREAKABLE, visit the website Adamantine Alliance, follow Thom Shea on social media. I guarantee, if you are seeking personal and professional growth, you will not be disappointed.

Courageous Leadership

By Jona Lendering - Livius.org Provided under CC 0 license (notice under the photograph in the description page of the photograph)., CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73611308

By Jona Lendering - Livius.org Provided under CC 0 license (notice under the photograph in the description page of the photograph)., CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73611308

Today, I am sitting here asking myself…do I have courage in how I lead? Courage, like any other part of leadership is a choice…a decision…something you practice in order to improve. Eddie Rickenbacker (WW I Ace Fighter Pilot) stated, “Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared.”

For those of us who are interested in the lessons learned from military greatness, we see that many military leaders were in the line of fire, encouraging their troops in battle. We can read about how George Washington, at the Battle of Monongahela, rode forward to take charge of the troops. He had two horses shot out from under him and his jacket had four bullet holes. We can read about the courage of King Leonidas and his Spartan warrior, at the Battle of Thermopylae (the inspiration for 300).

Not all of us are destined to be great military leaders, but we are all in a position in our family, neighborhood, or job to lead others. Courage does not mean that bold decisions need to be made every day, but it does mean acting on what is right, in the face of what feels fearful. Here are some things to keep in mind as we strive to make courageous decisions.

1) Courage begins with an inward battle. Remember, it is not the absence of fear that defines courage. Courage is doing the very thing that stirs up fear in your heart

2) Courage is making things right, not just smoothing them over. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Being courageous means that you are dealing with principles and not perception. A courageous leader is more focused on the potential outcome of the decision than they are on appeasing others.

3) Courage in a leader, inspires commitment from followers. Like in the examples of George Washington and King Leonidas, when a leader displays courage it inspires those whom they lead.

4) Being courageous will expand your horizons.. I am told that those who face the fear of something like sky-diving, often realize that the fear of sky-diving is worse than the act itself. Once the fear has been faced, it opens up their minds to the idea of exploring more ways to conquer their fears (perhaps it is time to give sky diving a try).

This post is as much to encourage me in being a courageous leader as it is to help others face their fears. If I am honest, not a week goes by without being presented with multiple opportunities to show courage. What am I going to do with the next time I am given a choice to be courageous? Am I going to lead, focus on principle and potential or will I abdicate and let others fill the gap that was meant for me?

Who Moved My Cheese? - A Book Review

How do you cope with change? Do you anticipate change? Do you help others successfully navigate change?

If you like the use of story-telling to make teach lessons that are important in life, I think that you will enjoy this book. There is nothing complicated, but the message is clear. Dealing with change is not always easy, and can be made harder if you have the wrong attitude toward future possibilities.

Everyone that I know, has had to deal with a fear of the future. It ties into a fear of the unknown. What are you doing to prepare for and anticipate the future changes that will come your way? If change catches you off-guard how are you going to respond or react? How long will you take to make a decision about moving forward?

One thing that most of us can count on is that our circumstances will change. Job priorities will shift, family relationships grow and change, the stock market has highs and lows, sectors of an economy become obsolete as new technology arises. Keep a watch for things that you have the ability to foresee and be prepared to adjust on your own terms as often as feasible.

This would be a great book to go over in a master-mind group or book club. I am a slow reader and was able to get through the whole book in one morning. Read and review the book with the intent of understanding how your response to change is reflected in the characters.

Am I Being a Competent Leader?

Image found at www.prexels.com

Image found at www.prexels.com

How often do we see someone who we consider to be an expert in a given field and admire their work? As a citizen of the United States of America, have you peeked at The Federalist Papers and considered about the deep thought and clear communication which went into these writings? How about sitting in-front of a museum art-piece and taking in the details addressed in the artist’s work? We see professional athletes in our televised sporting events, but how often to we really consider the blood, sweat, and tears that helped them elevate beyond high school and collegiate athletics?

Being a competent leader is not a destiny or the completion of a complex equation. Leadership takes many skills, but demands competency in core components. There is the artful side of leadership, where one must know the people with whom they are charged and the direction of the industry into which they are thrust. A leader must orchestrate multiple tasks and operations much like a conductor of a symphony. To be an exceptional leader, one must also understand the technical or operational aspects of each team member’s duties well enough to coach and direct the team while observing and revealing blind spots which may create obstacles to success. The competent leader is consistently on a journey.

To ensure I am being a competent leader, I must be diligent in key aspects of my daily life, such as:

  • Show up Every Day - This is more that just being physically present. I need to be engaged in both the relational and tactical aspects of my role!

  • Keep Improving - Not every day is going to be a huge step in professional growth. The key is whether I am running, walking, or crawling…keep moving forward. I need to read books that challenge my thought process or provokes new ideas and put these ideas into practice.

  • Follow Through with Excellence - Look at the output of my work. Does it reflect excellence, or mediocrity? Did I use proper grammar, is my message clear, does my team understand my intent…these are some of the questions to which I need to answer every time I communicate.

  • Accomplish More than Expected - Am I going the extra mile? Have I pictured the end goal before beginning? Do I ensure the output is on-time, within budget, accomplishes the desired goals? Do I help position others to thrive?

  • Inspire Others - This can only be done if I, myself am inspired. Do I have a mentor, coach, or cohort who will help push and encourage me to out perform my previous expectation? In my case, I do and I would encourage anyone who aspires to leadership to do the same.

Do I believe that I am a competent leader? Maybe, but the true answer of my competence can only be seen in the outcome of those who have trusted me. How am I removing obstacles to the success of others? How am I shielding my team from internal or external politics that end up being distractions? Am I seeking, reviewing, and/or providing tools for others to thrive? The answers to these questions help define my competence. These can be best answered by those who are around me and effected by my actions.