Organizational Culture – You Must Understand it for Career Success!

Organizational Culture – You Must Understand it for Career Success!

As your career expands you may well play a role in developing the orgnaizational culture of your employer or perhaps a subset (division, department, etc) of it. If you are an entrepreneur, you ARE the determining factor of your venture’s orgainizational culture. If your job title starts with a “C”, then you have a responsibility to orgcultmaintain and mold the existing organnizational culture. Any way you look at it, organizational culture (or OC for this discussion)  is a deteremining factor for success of all organizations whether they be corporations, law firms, educational institutions, etc.

Lest you doubt that, hear the thoughts of Isadore Sharp, CEO of the Four Seasons Hotel chain: “If you don’t understand the culture of the company, even your most brilliant strategies will fail. Your vision will be resisited, plans won’t get executed properly, and all kinds of things will start going wrong.”

A study by the Econimist Intelligence Unit found: “56% or U.S. executives felt the single greatest obstacle to growth was corporate culture”.

Given its imporatnce to success, let’s examine just what OC is and its impact. The conclusions of those who have studied it are:

1. OC is the basic pattern of shared assumptions, values and beliefs considered to be the correct way of thinking about and acting on problems and opportunities facing the organization. OC is the philosophy that guides the organization’s policies towards employees and customers.

2. OC represents certain predefined policies that guide employees and give them a sense of direction in the workplace. It determines how employees interact in the workplace; it puts them on a common platform of thinking and decision-making.

3. An organization’s culture is the “lens” through which its employees view the world; the “logic” which defines roles and actions; the “grammar” which brings order and makes sense of things. In other words, OC is central to what people see , how they make sense of what they see and how they in turn express themselves.

4. Organizations will ultimately get only as far as their OC will take them

David A. Thomas from the Harvard Business School and Robin J. Ely from Columbia University have extensively studied OC and found the following components to be present in most of the successful organizations they studied:

  • The OC creates expectations of high standards of performance from everyone.
  • The OC encourages debate and constructive conflict.
  • The OC is such that training and education programs nurture personal development.
  • Employees feel valued and are encouraged to apply their background and skills in creative ways to improve the work of the organization.
  • The mission and goals of the organization are well articulated and widely understood, which keeps discussions about differences focused on the organization’s work.
  • The OC and structure are such that people are encouraged to be themselves,      unencumbered by unnecessary bureaucratic systems that control and limit the activities of people within the organization.

Some indicators that the OC requires more than just passing attention would be:

  • Higher than normal turnover and/or unexpected turnover.
  • Such simple indicators as unhappy, unmotivated  and/or disgruntled staff.
  • Projects and plans that sound good initially just don’t progress; people are not taking ownership of them and seeing them through to completion.
  • Staff can’t articulate the organization’s mission and values.
  • Staff senses conflicting messages from senior management.

Very few organizations can’t use a little tune-up to improve their Organizational Culture to; it is of benefit to all if the common values, assumptions and beliefs are shared by all and used as a bias for action. Constant attention is always needed to fine tune and maintain an organization’s culture.

As you evaluate prospective employers, do your best to determine what their OC is and how healthy is it. Successful organizations have healthy OC; those that are not one of the leaders in their segment probably have an unhealthy OC and are to be avoided as a career choice.

And regardless of what your job is today, analyze the OC of your organization and do what you can to strengthen it.

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Leadership – Critical for Success – How to Excel in Your Job

Leadership – Critical for Success – How to Excel in Your Job

Peter Drucker said it all when he said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”. *

leadershipBoth are necessary for success… but leadership is harder to pursue and harder to attain.

Any road map for dynamic leadership will include:

1. Seeing the big picture. Picture in your “mind’s eye” the objectives of the organization (or your team, department or business unit). Don’t engage in or permit others to engage in any activity that doesn’t get you closer to achieving those objectives. Sure – every now and then a re-grouping is called for to get back on track… and every now and then some “pro bono” effort is needed….but don’t let extraneous “things” get in the way of pursuing the organization’s objectives.

2. Making sure subordinates are fully informed as to the objective(s) and buy into them. This often involves a discussion of “why”, “how” and “target numbers”.  Give them the parameters of action that can – and can’t – be taken; budgetary limits on spending and any other broad guidelines. Communicate clear and concise expectations of results.

3. Monitoring progress – but not hovering. Let staff do their thing… your monitoring is to prevent disaster, not minor mistakes or errors. “Doing things their own way” may well result in minor errors or mistakes. Make any mistake or error a learning process; risk-taking is inherent in the pursuit of success.  Remember – “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs!”

4. Measuring progress regularly. Benchmark progress against targets, and charge staff with developing plans to address shortfalls or to capitalize on above-target results. Guide their problem solving…but don’t do it for them.

5. Making sure every team member “sweats the small stuff”. One of John Wooden’s maxims for success is, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen”. Every team member needs to acknowledge that each and every task or action needs to be on-target, on-time and error-free. Sloppy execution is a sign of sloppy management. Sloppy management is a sign of poor leadership.

6. Recognizing and rewarding performance…publicly.  People like to be winners. The incremental achievement of targeted objectives determines who the winners are; it is the job of leadership to recognize and reward those individuals and teams. Create programs and mechanisms to regularly and publicly recognize those who achieve and set the standard for others.

OK… six components of effective leadership. Rate yourself on a 1-5 scale for each:

One or two points – I haven’t a clue where to begin

Three points – I am progressing but I have a ways to go

Four points – I am doing well!! Now it’s time to fine-tune

Five points –  Ain’t no such thing as a five… always room to improve.. give yourself a 4.7 or 4.8

Now – add up your points – maximum of 30 possible (6 x 5). Anything less than a twenty means you have your work cut out for yourself. Twenty-five or better – congratulations – Drucker would be proud of you. But don’t rest… keeping it going requires constant attention. Good luck!!

http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Peter_Drucker

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Want to Build a Great Team and Be a Great Motivator?

Want to Build a Great Team and Be a Great Motivator?

If so – you can take a page or two from John Wooden’s playbook.

woodenJohn Wooden was the legendary basketball coach at UCLA whose accomplishments are in the record book and will probably never be matched:

• 10 NCAA National Championships – 7 consecutively

• 4 30 and 0 seasons (4 perfect seasons)

• Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as BOTH a player (1960) and coach (1973)

John died in 2010 at age 99… but his comments and homilies live on forever. John’s ability to build a basketball dynasty with “ordinary” talent was renowned. Part of his formula was to instill in his players a sense of responsibility, self-sacrifice and humility to meld them into a team. His quips and quotes are great training and motivational aids… use them in sales meetings… add them to your vocabulary to be a better communicator…use them to illustrate lessons when training and mentoring.

Being motivating translates into leading people beyond their envelope – their comfort level. It is done by instilling in them self-belief and self-confidence…and the ability to spring back from failure or setback.

No one was any better at it that Coach John Wooden. Make his comments your own!

  • “Treat all people with dignity and respect”.”
  • “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
  • “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”
  • “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
  • “Never mistake activity for achievement”.
  • “Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.”
  • If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  • “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
  • “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
  • “Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”
  • Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
  • “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

Take a look at John’s “Pyramid of Success”. It has been used by managers and coaches world-wide to illustrate the components of success.

john-wooden-pyramid1For further readings about John – see his biography “Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court” by John Wooden and Steve Jamison.

Wooden book cover

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Great Communication Skills – the Mark of Successful People!

Management is the process of getting things done through the efforts of other people utilizing available resources.

Leadership is the process whereby a person can obtain the support and actions of others to achieve a common goal; people follow leaders based in part on the belief that leaders can and will pave the way regardless of obstacles.

In both cases, successful managers AND leaders posses strong and effective communication skills.

What are some of the common characteristics of great communicators?

1. They are really good listeners. Not only to hear and understand but to also demonstrate sincere interest in what they are hearing and who they are hearing from. Being a good listener is not always easy – distractions abound both externally and within your mind. When you are listening, be careful you are not formulating your response  in your mind rather than listening. Strive for full understanding, and demonstrate that by asking questions. Don’t show signs of impatience; there is a polite friendly eye contactway to get someone who is stuck on a tangent back on target: “I think we have wandered off the reservation – let’s get back on track and focus on what you were saying.”

2. They maintain strong and frequent eye contact. This goes hand in hand with focusing on the person or persons you are listening to. To not do so is to tell the speaker “what you are saying isn’t really important to me”! Not exactly a trust-building characteristic! Your eye contact needs to be “friendly” vs “threatening”; no glaring and certainly not continual….the operational phrase is frequent friendly eye contact. The two photos show the difference between “friendly” and angry eye contact“threatening” eye contact! Make sure yours is of the friendly variety!

3. They develop a “delivery style” that is energetic, lively and above all articulate. If you are not all three of these – get started on achieving them. Read out loud in front of a mirror. Ask others if you are a mumbler or otherwise not as clear as the network newscaster on the evening news. If you constantly insert “um” and/or “ah” into conversation – you really need to work on that. Have someone you trust listen to you and snap their fingers when you make those sounds to alert you to how often you do so – you may not be aware of the extent of this impediment. When you feel one coming on…just pause for a moment and then continue. Most people that say “um” and “ah” are buying time to think of the next word… so just pause for a fraction of a second while that next word comes into mental focus. Eliminating these from your speech is critical to being a great communicator.

As for the energetic and lively aspects, great communicators exhibit body language that portrays confidence, enthuasism and a high energy level. They show a sense of humor, they smile, and they vary their timing for emphasis where emphasis is called for.

We all can be better commincators… but like most things …it requires focus and work. Good luck!

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Delegation Trains Everyone

The inability to delegate is one of the most common failings of managers. Management and leadership are all about getting results by organizing and supervising a workforce. Poor delegation or no delegation is inefficient and expensive. And the worst thing about not delegating is that managers are losing wonderful training opportunities for their delegationworkers.

Managers have many reasons for not delegating:

  • They feel at ease doing routine tasks rather than supervising the work of others.
  • They aren’t familiar with the skills of their workers and therefore unsure of other people’s ability to take more responsibility.
  • They hate correcting other people’s work.
  • They know they can do some things better than other people can.

Delegating is hard work, but it’s work that is needed to help an organization grow and improve. You can tell people what to do, you can show people what to do, but by far the best way to teach people is to simply let them do the work themselves. Delegation provides that training venue.

There are basically two good reasons to delegate:

  • It gets the work done more efficiently…and
  • It provides training and new experiences for members of work teams.

Renowned management consultant Andrew E. Schwartz says, “Too many managers waste both time and energy performing tasks an employee could perform just as well, thereby lowering productivity while raising operating costs. The answer to the problem is easy – delegation. However, many managers still limit their own effectiveness, time and energies, and fail to develop their subordinates by either ignoring or mismanaging the techniques of delegation.”

The ability to delegate tasks and control productivity simultaneously is an essential skill for managers. There are many pitfalls that can undermine efforts to delegate, but there are also some basic steps to help managers ease their workload through delegation while maintaining control.

There are five functions of an effective delegation and controls system:

  1. Planning and Goal Setting – If everyone is involved in the planning and goal setting of a project, it is more likely that everyone will buy into the work involved to bring the project to fruition – which makes delegation easier.
  2. Responsibility and Authority – Before delegating, everyone needs to know which way the responsibility flows. Who reports to whom? That question must answered for effective delegation. James G. Patterson, a business writer and faculty member of the University of Phoenix, advises, “Be prepared to supervise. All projects require regular monitoring – especially in the early stages. So do all employees. But some projects require more scrutiny than others, and some employees demand more direction. Here, too, it’s a matter of matching the task with the person.”
  3. Negotiation – “Can you do this?” If not – training is needed. Give and take is part of the delegation process.
  4. Consultation and Coaching – Think of consultation as the bedside manner of a physician taking the pulse of a family member. The manager needs to know how the patient is doing, and must make suggestions to improve the overall health of the project and that person’s performance.
  5. Review and Control – This is kind of like consultation and coaching, but from one step back. Reviewing project aspects and controlling the work and schedule insures continued progress towards worthwhile goals. In reviewing the project the results should be addressed; and the methods that were involved should be addressed only if they were inefficient or ineffective (or illegal!!).

Delegation can result in some mistakes being made, but mistakes can also be learning opportunities. The manager’s job is to monitor the work and progress so that any mistakes are caught and corrected before they become fatal to the project. Praise should be given for jobs well done. Each time delegation happens there is a chance that everyone will improve his or her performance and standing in the organization.

For more information about delegating – see “Successful Delegation – Using the Power of Other People’s Help”

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_98.htm

And of course Wikipedia’s take on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delegation

 

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The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is the process of convincing others of the merits of your position, idea or issue thru presenting facts, the use of logic…and avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and persuasionthen accepting your argument. Persuasion therefore is a two-fold process.

1. Presenting your case:

a. Broadly state the outcome and success story that you believe will result if your course of action or plan is adopted and put into place. Be as specific as you can, but don’t make any “heads in the cloud” statements or promises. Be sure everyone understands your objective and the features and benefits of achieving it.

b. Outline briefly what the challenges and barriers to success are and what resources will be needed to implement or to proceed.

c. Proceed to present in suitable detail what it is that you propose…your idea, solution or course of action. In advance you need to have thought through how much detail is appropriate for your audience. Some audiences – bosses and others – want a great deal of detail… graphs – charts, etc. They are “numbers people” and need numbers to understand. Other audiences are “concept people” and just want to understand your concept and how things will generally work. Part of this depends on how much faith your audience has in you, your past history of being on target with ideas, decisions and actions.

d. You need to build your case step-by-step. Take the temperature regularly to ensure that you haven’t lost anyone along the way, saying something like “Everyone with me? Any questions? OK… let’s proceed.” Pay attention to your audience… and look for any signs of confusion and if questions reveal that an earlier point was missed…go back and cover that ground again. When you have fully made your presentation…do a quick review…ask if there are any more questions…and then ask the decision-maker(s) when you might expect a decision.

e. You also need to think through ahead of time what your presentation format will be; will you use visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation, or some other graphics? And hand in hand with that is what kind of “leave behind” or handouts you will utilize. If you use a PowerPoint presentation, you can print all of the PowerPoint slides – six to a page – in color or in black and white. You also need to decide whether to distribute your handouts in advance… so that your audience can make notes on them.

2. Remember we said there are two aspects to persuasion? The second one is avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and then accepting your argument. An overview of these issues include:

a. Know who your audience is and what is at stake for each of them. For example, a plan to expand the use of technology and automaton may be great… but if it results in cutting staff, be aware that may be indeed a blow to someone’s turf…their power and influence in the organization. When a “stakeholder” has something to lose as a result of your plan, you may well benefit from talking with them in advance…saying something like “..when I make my pitch to the team tomorrow, it might have an adverse impact on part of your operation… but hear it out and we can then discuss its impact on your department.” Do an inventory of who is going to be involved with your presentation and the resulting decision to be made. What do they have at stake? What might their fears be? Be sure to address them in your presentation.

b. Be aware of whose handiwork you are going to modify or eliminate if that will be the impact of your proposal. Here too you may want to meet with them before the presentation and say something like “…I know that the data center was your baby and that you set it up…and wanted you to know that my proposal to the team tomorrow will have an impact on that…and I ask that you hear me out tomorrow.”

c. Finally… be sure to mentally be alert for any mannerism that annoy or frustrate people. Jingling the change in your pocket for the men… pulling at strands of hair for the ladies. Examine your speaking style for repetitive and annoying words and phrases such as saying “OK” after every sentence, and slang and lingo that might annoy others. Never, never use profanity or discriminatory words or phrases. Be 110% “politically correct”!!

Successfully persuading others involves influencing them. The late (and great) Cavett Robert, a world-renowned motivational speaker said “Influence is the ability to cause others to think, feel and act as we desire”. Use your powers of persuasion to influence your audience to adopt your proposal … or at the very least …as a springboard to modifying it for the benefit of the organization. Good Luck!!

If you want to know more of the art of persuasion – see the Wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persuasion

And a great Forbes article on line:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/03/26/the-21-principles-of-persuasion/

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Enough is Enough!! Stop Talking and Let’s Get on With It !!

stop_talking_tshirtA major annoyance for most of us is a conversation with someone that never stops talking!

You almost have to wait until they take a breath to get a comment or question in!

Learning how and when to “shut up” is both a behavioral habit as well as a leadership trait.

According to  Mike Staver of The Staver Group – www.thestavergroup.com – many people don’t know when to talk and when to put a brake on it.

Here are a few questions to determine whether you know how to keep your mouth shut or not:

  •  After you make your point, do you just have to add a few other (unnecessary) comments?
  •  Do you say “in closing” several times before you really close?
  •  Do you have to have the last word in an argument or disagreement?

Here are some communications tips from Staver:

  •  Be clear about what you are attempting to communicate.
  •  Share with the person you are communicating with what you want to accomplish.
  •  Avoid getting distracted by other issues, ideas, points, stories, etc. (I refer to this as “wandering around the verbal landscape”! With folks that do this, you just want to scream “Stick to the point”!!)
  •  Use “talk-ending” techniques such as “So what are the next steps?” or use an example to wrap things up.
  •  Learn to tolerate silence. It is effective…and it won’t kill you, Staver says!

“Leadership – never stop learning”

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13 Common Behaviors of Trusted Leaders!

Without trust – organizational crisis!

Research shows that only 49% of employees trust senior management, and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information.

Trust aOrganizational trust is critical for success – trust is the foundation for all successful relationships, both business and personal. If you are a manager and leader, one of your most important roles is to inspire trust. Trust in you, your motives  AND your organization.

Inspire – to affect – to guide – to bring about – to fill with enlivening emotion.

Inspiring trust is not an easy task. To be trusted as a manager and leader, you must demonstrate both character and competence:

Character includes integrity, honesty and how you are observed treating others. A manager/leader who has earned trust is viewed as a “good and honest person” as demonstrated by past words and deeds – by “history”. He or she is credible – up front with people.

Competence includes capabilities, skills and track record. Your actions and decisions need to demonstrate that you know what you are doing – that you understand the marketplace, understand people and that you are constantly looking for organizational opportunity.

The-Speed-Of-TrustStephen M.R. Covey (son of the late Stephen R. Covey) – in his landmark book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything – talks of the “13 Behaviors of High-Trust Leaders.

Covey identified 13 common behaviors of trusted leaders around the world that build and then maintain trust. When individual leaders adopt these ways of behaving, it’s like making deposits into the “trust account” of another party.

Those 13 are:

1. Talk Straight: Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Demonstrate integrity.

2. Demonstrate Respect: Show you genuinely care. Respect everyone, even those that can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in little ways.

3. Create Transparency: Be genuine, open and authentic. Don’t hide information or have ‘hidden agendas’. Operate on the premise of ‘what you see is what you get’.

4. Right Wrongs: Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up. Do the right thing.

5. Show Loyalty: Give credit to others. Be loyal to the absent. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves. Don’t talk negatively about others behind their backs.

6. Deliver Results: Establish a track record of results. Accomplish what you are hired to do. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.

7. Get Better: Continuously learn and improve. Increase your capabilities. Develop formal and informal feedback systems. Thank people for feedback. Act on feedback received.

8. Confront Reality: Meet issues head-on. Address the ‘tough stuff’ directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead conversations courageously.

9. Clarify Expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss and validate them. Renegotiate them if necessary. Ensure expectations are clear.

10. Practice Accountability: Hold yourself and others accountable. Take responsibility for good or bad results. Clearly communicate how everyone is doing.

11. Listen First: Listen before you speak. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Diagnose. Don’t assume, find out.

12. Keep Commitments: State your intentions and then do it. Make commitments carefully; make keeping your commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences.

13. Extend Trust: Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.

Wise words and a roadmap for every manager and leader. Keep the short list of these (talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, etc.) in your mind as you go about your day. Better yet – get Covey’s book and read it!

Leadership – Never Stop Learning…….

Good luck!

Adapted from Crisis of Trust by Lori Williams of Creative Management Consultants

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A Touch of Humility Goes a Long Way

Effective leadership can’t be possible without a good dose of humility. All successful people have it. All effective leaders must have it.

I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.

Mohandas Gandhi

EisenhowerHumility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.

Dwight D Eisenhower

You never know who you are gonna meet on the way down that you treated poorly on the way up.

People with Street Smarts

Eisenhower’s appointment as Supreme Allied Commander to lead the Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe in World War II was largely due to his great ability to get along with people. Ike needed to manage the immense and overpowering egos of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery and have them accept him as Supreme Commander. Ike’s sense of humility was the key to a personality that paved the way for his success.

Ike’s quote above applies to anyone who achieves success due to the efforts and sacrifices of others…and that means every successful manager of people. It is the subordinates that do the real work…to make the deadlines… and achieve the plan the boss put together. People will work long and hard for a variety of reasons but will usually balk at doing so for a boss that is arrogant…doesn’t appreciate their efforts…and generally doesn’t treat them well….in other words, someone without a sense of perspective regarding their own importance; a lack of humility..

U.S. Grant

U.S. Grant

Ulysses S Grant – our 16th President and the general that won the American Civil War for Lincoln – had an overriding sense of humility. And for good reason. Grant, West Point class of 1843, was forced to leave the Army in 1854 for allegations of drunkenness. He then failed at every effort after that – farming, bill collecting, selling firewood on the streets of St Louis. He finally became a clerk in his father’s leather goods store. When the Civil War broke out the North needed experienced officers. Grant re-joined the Union Army and quickly came into his own. Having failed to support his family in civilian life, he found great success leading men in battle. Why? To a great deal, how he treated people – friend and foe alike.

A general’s greatest accomplishment is the capture of an enemy army. Which is what Grant did in February, 1862, when his army captured the Confederate army defending Ft Donelson on the Tennessee River. Customarily such an event would call for a ceremony where the surrounding general would offer his sword and sidearm to the victor. When a subordinate asked Grant when and where the surrender ceremony would take place, Grant replied “There will be nothing of the kind. Why should we injure the spirit of brave men, who after all are our own countrymen and brothers?”.

Grant could have celebrated… could have gloated… but he didn’t. Just as one of the first things discussed with Robert E. Lee at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was Grant asking if Lee’s men needed rations. Humility and thoughtfulness again.

Hu-mil-i-ty (noun)  A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

Important for all to keep in mind as we go through life, dealing with people and facing adversity. And perhaps one of the greatest lessons each of us can teach others!

Recommended reading for more about Eisenhower & Grant:

Ulysses S. Grant – Soldier & President by Geofferey Perret – Random House Eisenhower – Soldier & President by Stephen Ambrose – Simon & Shuster

Traits of Success!

Traits of success – what do successful people credit for why they have achieved success?

successSuccessful people – when asked, “What has helped you achieve success?” Or ”What are the traits you have nurtured to get where you are?” – will respond with a variety of nouns and descriptive phrases. Some of the most common are detailed below. Take a look at these and check off those that you possess… and add the others to your personal “to do” list.

Do the same for your subordinates and develop a coaching program for each of them so they too can begin to check off as “got it” these desired traits of successful people.

  1. Great and positive attitude. The glass is – at least outwardly – ALWAYS half full. Be “up”…smile…portray that problems and obstacles are to be tackled and resolved. Having a great positive attitude is the first step to being a “Go To” person – a desired state of being for anyone! Have a personal methodology to get and keep your attitude positive, especially when things go wrong. Check the websites and thoughts of Tim Connor  (www.timeconnor.com) , David Rich (www.contagioustalk.com) and Angelo Agrafiotis (www.aaimlifecoaching.com) when you need a mental shot in the arm.
  2. Stay on message. To do otherwise confuses people as to what is important and what the mission is. Repeat the message over and over again… otherwise, people will forget and stray off message. Like the parlor game of telephone where a verbal message is passed down the line and emerges bearing no resemblance to the original message… only by repeating the message will it get to all and be retained in its original form. One memo… one presentation…one speech will never get it done… tenacity is critical.
  3. Be upfront, straightforward and honest…at all times. Simple and direct avoids confusion. No obfuscation…no “blowin’ smoke” about “what’s going on”. Your subordinates and those you work with need to be able to predict how your think and how you make decisions in order to be in sync with you. Being upfront and straightforward leads to predictability. When you use facts and figures – be sure you are right on; getting them wrong leads people to conclude you were playing fast and fancy with the facts.
  4. Be curious. Curiosity leads you and your co-workers to explore new and better ways to do things. It counters the brain “stagnation” that can set in within an organization. Cultivate “environmental awareness” – what is going on around you and – and consider how it all fits in. Read, learn and ponder the “what-ifs” regarding your organization, department or job!
  5. Be a very good listener. When you are talking with someone – give it 100% of your attention. It is just rude to listen and also multi-task on your PDA or let your eyes wander around the room. If you are going to listen to someone, you have two objectives: a. Hear and understand what he or she has to say; and, b. Have him or her leave the conversation feeling they had your total and complete attention.. .the impact is for the person to feel that they were the most important person in the room.
  6. Intensity of focus. Be very, very serious about achieving excellence in your realm of responsibility. Never accept second-best … and if it happens regardless, have a plan to fix it. Remember the parable of the farmer’s cow in the ditch. The three-step process is:

a. First – get the cow out of the ditch.

b. Second – Figure out how the cow got in the ditch.

c. Third – Create and implement a plan so it can never happen again.

Most people do #1…and maybe #2. People that are serious about excellence take the time to do all three!

OK – these are six characteristics of successful people in their own words. See if you agree…and to what degree do you possess and practice them!

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