Archive for Leadership

I love to play golf!

You get to know a lot about the people you hang out with in one round of golf.  This had me thinking, if I was going to interview someone for a position at my company, I would take them to play golf.

One thing I would search for in hiring a person would be integrity.  When playing golf, I see people move the ball from where it originally landed. They want a better lie. Some do it on every shot they take. When they are putting, they give themself a gimme, when it really isn’t. Then, at the end of the hole, they give a score for you to put down and it is no where close to what they actually shot.

Another thing I observe is their temperament.  In golf you see someone’s real character. How do they handle it when things aren’t going so well? Are they cursing, throwing their clubs, braking their clubs.  Do they pout and just quit?   When things are going great are they rubbing it in your face that you sucked on that hole?

How well do they communicate?  Are they interrupting you or talking to you when you are swinging?  Do they get distracted and lose their ball because they are talking so much they aren’t focused?  Do they give positive input on what could possibly help your swing?

These are a few things I would check out on our round of golf–or your next job interview.

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Does the media tell us the truth or do they have their own agenda? The answer is, I don’t know. I want to believe with all of my heart that they do report accurately. It seems today that whatever network you listen to puts their own spin on the story though.

For example, when I listen to a politician speak or listen to a debate, afterwards the figure heads get on and tell us what these ladies or gentlemen just said. Lots of times, I say to myself, “that’s not what I just heard”.  So, the people who don’t hear this debate get to hear the spin of what the media organization wants you to hear.

I remember when the Iraq war first broke out and there was a Iraqi news reporter in Iraq called “Baghdad Bob” and I thought he was hilarious. He was saying that Iraq was kicking the U.S.’s tail. He was wanting the people to not know what was going on, when in reality things were looking bad. How could this guy get away with that and actually have people believe him?

Now, I wonder how many Baghdad Bob’s we have in our media outlets? We believe what we hear or read.  Has it always been this way?  No, it couldn’t have been.  I know Vietnam wasn’t like this, other presidential elections weren’t like this either, or were they? When did this change or has it always been like this?

The thing that frustrates me the most is that we (people) don’t take the time to research the facts for ourselves. We just take their word. Some journalists or reporters are telling us the truth and some are not.

Don’t believe everything you read or hear on the news.

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Remarkable (Credo House)

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I have been reading Seth Godin’s book “Purple Cow” again. Yes, I said again, because I needed the reminder.   He mentions in the book that very good is the enemy of remarkable, and I agree. When we are good at doing something, we get content and quit striving to be remarkable at what we do.

During my time re-reading this book, whenever I would visit a company, store or eating establishment, I would think:  is this remarkable? Unfortunately, most places I visited weren’t very good at all.

I did find one remarkable place in Edmond, Oklahoma, and it is called the Credo House.  While the Credo House is a coffee shop, it is also much more.  It is a place where I can study about God, I could have a small group meeting with friends, and I could participate in their classes. The things I can do here are endless.

I was thinking about its location.  It is hard to find.  Everyone doesn’t pass it everyday, but people are finding it.  Why?  Because it is remarkable.  When something is remarkable, people will find it.

Oh, and there are a couple of things that I did find remarkable while reading this book, and I will talk about them at a later time.

Is your business very good? Or is it Remarkable?



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Are you a buffalo?

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I once heard a story about leadership that forever changed my life.

It goes like this: there is a lead buffalo in every herd. The lead buffalo makes all the decisions. Everyone follows the lead buffalo without asking any questions.  According to the story, when Indians hunted buffalo, they would seek out the lead buffalo.  The hunters knew that if they forced the lead buffalo over a cliff, the other buffalo would follow their leader right over the edge of the cliff.   If the hunters shot the lead buffalo, the other buffalo would stop moving.  Without their leader, they didn’t know what to do, thus making them easy targets.

You could say that “buffalo leadership” is heavy-handed.  As a buffalo leader, you make all of the decisions, without seeking any input from others.   This leaves no room for development of the team.   The buffalo leadership style can be summed up this way:  simply “do as I do”, and don’t ask any questions or give any feedback.

Compare the buffalo to geese.  Geese fly in a V-shaped formation, and the leader helps the other geese by deflecting the wind, making it easier for them to fly for longer distances. Also, the geese take turns being the leader.  Thus, there isn’t just one goose making all of the decisions and taking all of the risk–they all have a part.   One cool thing about the geese is that they are not quiet.  You can hear the geese cheering on the leader, giving their support and encouragement.  “You can do it; we have faith in you. Go for it!”

This sounds like a fun environment where everyone is able to give input and ultimately participate in obtaining their goal.

Unfortunately, I hear stories of a lot of leaders who lead their organization using the “Buffalo Style”.  They don’t want to teach others because they are afraid someone else will be able to do their job better than them.  Someone else may get the credit.  It is all about them; quick to take credit, and also very quick to displace blame or point fingers.

What kind of leadership style do you have?

Are you a buffalo or a goose?

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One of my favorite books is Good to Great by Jim Collins.

He has a quote that I use all of the time. “Are you on the right seat of the bus?”

I have been thinking about that statement quite a bit lately. What if
you were hired and you were on the right seat of the bus and all of a
sudden the bus driver changed?

The new bus driver may take a different route. The bus driver may not drive as fast or may drive too fast. The bus driver may fall asleep. So you decide you want off the bus because you don’t want to change bus drivers.

Now, I’m wondering if it is about the right seat on the bus or about the
bus driver.

What happens when the bus driver changes?

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In 1994, I was an Assistant Manager for Wal-Mart in Fairfax, Virginia. It was a stressful time of year for us.  We had just finished having a visit from Discount Store News (that is a big time magazine for retailers). All of the executives from Target, Kmart were there touring our store. We had a great visit.  Just when we were getting back into our normal routine we received a call from a Sr. Executive at Wal-Mart. We were going to get a visit from Wall Street. Sam Walton had died a few years earlier and they wanted to know why our stock was going down and if we could survive without Mr. Sam.
Luckily, we had a month to prepare for our next visit.  The pep talk to our management team from our District Manager, “Well we have to have a good visit because there are so hundreds of thousands of employees that are counting on you, our company is relying on you and our stock holders need you to help the stock prices go back up. Oh, and if we get a bad visit, you are all fired.” He didn’t even laugh when he said it. 
We worked our tails off and the store looked great. The Wall Street team came and toured around the location with us. They asked question after question. We had answers.
Here is what blew me away.  When we were touring the store, they asked us about the basics. Merchandise being instock, pricing, and checking people out. We had gone over the top with decorating the store, cleaning the store, balloons, streamers, etc.  Yet, they loved the basics, not the fluff. This is where one of my favorite sayings came from. “You have to bake the cake before you put the frosting on.”
What area of your life, job, relationship with your spouse, etc. do you need to focus on the basics instead of all the fluff?
BTW, the tour went great, we didn’t get fired and our stock price went up.

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The No Complaining Rule

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I just finished reading a book called the No Complaining Rule by Jon Gordon. It really made me think of how easy it is to complain when things don’t go the way we planned.  Some of the things that can frustrate me and then I may complain about it:

  • Traffic or people not driving the way I think they should
  • Standing in line at the store and they don’t open additional registers, especially since they have 30 but only 3 are open
  • When work doesn’t go the way I planned
  • OU football team loses
  • My wife makes dinner and I have to wait an extra 10 minutes for it to cook
  • Gaining weight even though I don’t exercise or eat right.  

I am sure I could add other things to this list.  I do have a choice though.  As the book states, I can jump on the positive road or the negative road.  MY CHOICE!   

So why is it so easy to jump on the negative road?  

I want to share a couple of things from the book that stand out to me:

  • One negative person can create a miserable office environment for everyone else.
  • Mindless complaining cultivates negativity- this sabotages morale and performance.
  • If you have a complaint, take it only to someone who is in a position to address the complaint. Also share one or two possible solutions to your complaint.

What am I going to do about complaining? Well, I decided to do a no complaining FAST, taking it one day at a time. I also have asked for someone’s help in holding me accountable.  My desire is for my co-workers, family and friends to notice the change in my behavior. 

What makes you complain and what can you do to change your behavior?

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I am just like Bill Parcells

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Bill Parcells is/was a great coach. I do know he has made mistakes in his career and the last mistake is the one that  is freshest on my mind. He picked a super star to be on his team,  but the super star wasn’t a team player. This guy had an attitude that “the world revolved around him”. Bill Parcells thought he could change him. Well he couldn’t and it eventually cost him his job. 

Bill Parcells is famous and I am not. Okay I said it. 

I do wonder if I have similarities with him. I love to take on a challenge and I even have the attitude that “oh, I could help him”.  Actually, I am saying I can fix him. Where I work we have this test called CDAT (can do anything). I scored very high on it. Sometimes a high score on this test can also be a fault. Heck my one of my favorite quotes is: “if we can put a man on the moon we can figure this out”. I am not cocky, I just really believe together we can find a way to get the mission accomplished 

The Bill Parcells scenario makes me think, do I sometimes get in the way of the team by thinking I can fix this person? I know I can change them. Do I mess with the team chemistry because it is about me? Does anyone else hang on to a person to long even though it affects the team? What about you? Have you kept someone on your team that you should have cut ties with?

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A few years ago I was very confused on why someone doesn’t call if they can’t make it to volunteer or to go on a mission. I didn’t understand it, I thought everyone called or emailed when they couldn’t make an appointment.   The questions ran through my head – why don’t they come to meetings, why do they leave early, why won’t they do this and why won’t they do that?  Why do some greeters not say hello and smile? Why do the small groups not last?  It made me think that people just aren’t very committed.

Then I was watching Andy Stanley at a Catalyst conference and what he said changed my thinking.  He said maybe the system is broken.  As I listened to his message, I finally realized I was blaming everyone else when all I had to do was look in the mirror.  The things I was questioning were important, but my systems were broken, I was the problem.  It was time for me to re-evaluate my systems. I had to take a hard look at what was broken and fix it. I wish I could say it was easy and painless, but I would be lying. I slowly started making baby steps to correct my issues or should I say systems on my team. Eventually it started to work.

So as I leave you today I would like for you to think about something that isn’t working, ie  “My employees, kids, students will not _________! ”

Maybe it isn’t them, it could be your system is broken.

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