Change Your Altitude

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Change Your Altitude!

Imagine flying in a balloon and looking at yourself and your situation from a higher altitude.

An intelligent and motivated executive may be negatively impacting their co-workers without realizing it. A small business owner may have a vision of what is possible; they invest countless hours and energy to achieve their vision, along the way that vision may get clouded in the din of day to day operations. In both cases, a different perspective can be very effective.

This lack of clarity may cause the impact of your actions to not be aligned with your intentions. According to a 2010 study, “senior leader reputation can drive employee commitment by as much as 41%.”

In these cases it is helpful to partner with someone who can help us see more clearly.  A trusted adviser or coach can work with you to change your perspective. Executive coaches use a process to help you take an elevated view of things. A skilled coach can help you see with your mind’s eye, your interactions at work or in your personal life. With practice you will be able to adjust your approach to bring your behavior in alignment with your intentions.

In addition to working with a coach there are others ways to change the altitude of your perspective. One highly effective way to get an elevated view of your reputation and to see things more clearly is through a 360 evaluation. This formal process allows you to compare your perspective of your reputation and compare it to up 16 other people. You may choose from among direct reports, peers, family members and more.

A less formal method of seeing yourself and your situations more clearly is from trusted and honest advisers. Work with people who know you well and ask them to lend their unbiased feedback.

Executives will benefit from taking time to gauge the impact they are having within the organization. Working with a coach or trusted adviser will provide the change in altitude necessary improve your results and will help you be more effective in whatever role you are in.

Living at Cause

April 8th, 2011 Today I received an email from a friend who I had spoken to about a year ago about the importance of living at cause. He wrote: “The transition to living in cause is full of surprises and continues everyday. I often think of the moment when you pulled me aside and “warned” me about the difficulties and pitfalls of changing from living in cause to living in effect. Thank you for your words that day and know the lessons I learned at Rapport are with me still.” Living at cause means you make the choice about how you act and respond to the circumstance of life. It means that you are the cause of the outcomes in your life. On the other hand, being in effect means circumstances affect the outcomes of your life and there is no choice.

My friend had graduated from one of our leadership classes last year and made the declaration that he was now going to live at cause in every situation. Meaning, no matter what life dished out, he was going to choose to look at it in a positive light. He was going to be the master and commander of his life. You may think that such a life perspective is only for the Pollyanna’s of the world. There is too much that happens in life that is out of our control. I explained to my friend that his commitment was admirable and I warned him that it would not be easy and it worth it. I teach the importance of living at cause and it is difficult

Create your futurefor me. I find that I go into effect when I do not live according to my core values, especially when I know better! Then I remember, I am at choice.

I believe that we determine our own outcomes of life. True, we cannot choose all the circumstances in our life, we can choose our responses to those circumstances. Stephen Covey states that 10% of life is what happens to us, 90% of life is how we choose to respond. This is a difficult doctrine because it means that we cannot blame spouses, bosses, friends, enemies or God for what happens to us. It means we are accountable and we cannot deflect blame. Nothing is PermanentThe email from my friend is more poignant to me, because today is the funeral of our mutual friend. This friend leaves us after losing his fight with cancer. He leaves behind a wife and young children who depended upon him for their support. At times like these, it is truly difficult to stay at cause. So why not just give in and be in effect? That is an option for each of us. Instead, I choose to do what I can to support his family. I choose to believe that my friend is no longer in pain. I choose to believe that as difficult as it will be for his wife and children to move forward, they may choose to do so and as a result, their lives will be blessed by the strength they develop. They will always have the memory of a beloved husband and father. Soon enough, I choose to believe they will all be joyously reunited. I choose to live at cause, it is worth the effort.

My Emotional Intelligence Experiment

Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

In my job, I help organizations and individuals everyday to develop behaviors that will create optimum results. In my conversations with clients, the topic of emotional intelligence (EQ) comes up a great deal. Over the last decade, emotional intelligence has proven to be a commodity that leaders are looking to increase in themselves and their people. A highly simplified definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to function effectively under stress or in difficult situations. It is also an understanding or awareness of how our behaviors impact the people around us. Data shows that 90% of top performers have high EQ.

As a teacher and consultant, I have a desire and an obligation to constantly work on my behaviors. With that in mind, I decided I would take a closer look at my EQ and track my progress as I work to increase my EQ. Since I am in a profession that teaches EQ I figured this would be fairly easy. I should have known that looking closely at one’s own behavior objectively is never easy.

One of the first things I did was buy the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. In the book there is an access code to take an online assessment. I took the assessment while I was in West Yellowstone on August 5th while I was at a family reunion. I figured that a family reunion was a great place to practice emotional intelligence skills like patience. The assessment is not very long and is only accurate if you are brutally honest with yourself. Knowing that my self-assessment objectivity might be lacking, I turned to my wife for brutal honesty. Sure enough, she more than compensated for my rose colored view of myself.

The assessment gives you a score based on your answers from 0-100. The scale is as follows: 90-100 Means EQ is a strength to capitalize on; 80-89 Is a strength to build on, 70-79 With a little improvement, this could become a strength; 60-69 Something you should work on; 59 and Below A concern you must address. The score assesses four areas which I will discuss later. My average score was 69. I was somewhat surprised by the low number. Needless to say, my response was less than emotionally intelligence.

Kidding aside, I feel that the score reflected my EQ levels of the not to distant past. I found it interesting that my wife encouraged me to score myself based on how I perceive I used to be. So once I recognized that, I rationalized (through rose colored glasses) that I probably was higher than a 69…more like a 70. Anyway, the cool thing about the assessment is that it gives you strategies that are customized for you to help you bring your EQ score up.

It is good to have someone who can give you objective and honest feedback. Be honest with yourself and receive feedback and you will make great progress in becoming more emotionally intelligent. This has been a tremenus help to me over the years as I have worked to raise my EQ and it will work for you too.

Creating a Sense of Urgency!

Considered one of the most difficult steps in achieving a positive work culture, creating a sense of urgency is imperative right now to leading your workforce and staying ahead of a changing work climate. Click the link below and listen to the podcast as I explain how to begin creating urgency and the positive impact it will have within your workplace.  http://bit.ly/dhmzOa

The Benefits of Investing in Human Capital

Business executives are always asking training professionals to justify investing in internal and external training. These decision makers want to understand the return on investment (ROI) as they might with a new software program or a marketing campaign. Many also ask why leadership training? There is enough data available on training, including data on Rapport’s training, to justify an executive’s investment in their most valuable asset…their people.
To answer these questions, it is important to understand the current global economy. One of the greatest challenges that organizations face in their quest to thrive, is the ability to change. Thousands of companies have failed while others are thriving. The difference is those that are thriving have the ability to adapt and meet the new market realities. The quicker an organization can change, the sooner they are able to thrive. What allows companies to adapt and change is a culture of leadership.

Emeritus Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, worldwide speaker, and the author of seven bestselling business books, John P. Kotter states: “Powerful macroeconomic forces are at work here, and these forces may grow even stronger over the next few decades. As a result, more and more organizations will be pushed to reduce costs, improve the quality of products and services, locate new opportunities for growth and increase productivity…..Leadership…creates organizations…and adapts them to significantly changing circumstances.” (Leading Change, John P. Kotter, pp. 3, 25.)

In 2008, IBM came to a similar conclusion in its Global Human Capital Study: “More than ever, today’s global organizations are focusing their time and attention on maximizing the value of their workforces. As corporations, nonprofits and government entities are becoming more globally integrated, and as traditional geographic and competitive boundaries disappear, the need to identify, develop and connect talent has never been more critical.”

The study surveyed senior HR executives from 400 companies in 40 different countries. The executives identified the importance of an adaptable workforce that can rapidly respond to changes in the outside market and leadership to guide individuals through change and deliver results. These companies also cited a lack of leadership capability as one of their top workforce challenges.

Successful organizations are acutely aware of the need for leadership development and the numerous benefits of leadership training:
• “The goal of leadership is to help people find their voice, where needs in the organization and marketplace overlap with talent, passion and conscience. When people truly find their voice, they don’t need to be supervised; they manage themselves because their motivation is internal rather than external.”
~Stephen Covey

• Improved morale: People need to have the feeling they are learning, growing and developing new skills. This keeps them engaged.

• Training helps people get connected to their company. To develop and share common goals. They believe more in their company and want it to succeed. When people start moving in the same direction with a common goal, they create a culture that will propel their company to success.

• Growth is change, and it will not happen without a shift in culture that changes the way employees work, act, innovate, talk, learn and collaborate. One of the greatest challenges an organization faces is changing its business culture. Training helps organizations create this culture shift by moving people out of their comfort zones and into the leadership behaviors that drive success.

• A 2008 leadership training study by Metrika-Phoenix found that leadership training strongly influenced behaviors that improve performance at work. The survey had a higher than 72% response rate, a confidence level of 97.5% and a margin of error less than 5%. Over 92% of training participants reported improvement in the following behaviors:
-Increased understanding of how their behavior impacts other people
-Willingness to take additional risks and push themselves.
-Greater willingness to support others and work as a team.
-They hold themselves and others to higher standards of accountability
-The ability to express more passion and enthusiasm.
-Greater self-confidence and a sense of increased self potential.
-More awareness of the potential in others.
-They are developing better focus on tasks and are getting better at showing initiative.

• The only thing that increases productivity within an organization is people. People are the only asset that appreciates in value. People may be developed and their performance improved. All other assets like buildings, equipment and systems deteriorate and depreciate.

• Talent shortages require organizations to focus on developing and retaining talent.

• When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to stay with a company. Many employees feel training improves their opportunities for advancement and thath they receive the necessary tools to be more effective at work and in their personal lives. “Having employees whose work and personal lives are balanced has tangible benefits—both for the employees and the organization overall—including an increased ability to attract and retain skilled people and higher production, satisfaction, and morale.”
~Joan Gurvis

More than ever, it is imperative that organizations continue to invest in their people. The current economic challenges associated with globalization demand that organizations change their approach and develop new leadership skills. It is critical that employees are more focused, confident and effective than ever before. To be effective, successful leaders will partner with outside organizations to develop their skills and serve as role models and mentors.

The ultimate responsibility to develop leadership lies with the entire organization. Effective outside partnerships are not enough. HR departments acting alone are not enough. Potential leaders must be identified and provided with direction, opportunity and guidance in order to develop. When the entire organization understands the benefits of developing leaders and works together, the necessary cultural ingredients to adapt and thrive will exist.

Sources:
IBM Global Human Capital Study (2008).
Kotter, J.P., Leading Change

Seize the Moment!

Seize Title We live in a great country where every day, every moment, you and I have the happy opportunity to make choices: Each morning we can get up early or hit the snooze button; watch TV or read a book; rent a movie on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, etc. or go to the theater; go to college or not; work in the private sector or public; meet minimum performance standards and just get by, or obliterate them. You can let work and life happen to you or seize the moment and make life extraordinary! Seize the moment cliffYou are the captain of your life. While it is true that we may not choose all of the circumstances of our lives, we may absolutely choose our response to circumstances and we may learn to influence and change our circumstances. At the end of the day do you look back at your actions and say; “I gave it everything I had!”? Does there have to be some great project, mission or opportunity for you to get engaged, or are you willing to give it everything you have with everyday things: Every phone call, every conversation, and every assignment no matter how small?! Many of us live waiting for what is next. We say things like: “I can’t wait to get to high school.” “I can’t wait to get out of high school.” When we get out of high school and get a job…”I can’t wait to get a job I like.” When in college…”I can’t wait to graduate.” When single…”I can’t wait to get married.” When married…”I can’t wait to be single.” With small kids…”I can’t wait until my kids grow up.” We can’t wait to have money when we have little, when we have abundantly, we can’t wait to have more. Many of us live on someday isle. “Someday I’ll be home in time to read my children a story and kiss them goodnight!” “Someday I’ll get in shape!” “Someday I’ll finish my degree!” “Someday, I’ll do what it takes to earn a Seize the moment romancepromotion!” We live on someday isle where opportunities pass us by while we are waiting for the “significant” things in our lives to happen. I believe a great indicator of how people will perform in a defining moment is how they perform every day. Make right now your great moment! When you share a conversation, make it great…be present, be invested! When you are given a task you think is beneath you-crush it! Come back to whomever assigned it to you and report it complete ahead of schedule and under budget. You want to prove your value on great things? Prove your value on everyday things. Otherwise, all too soon, our children are grown with children of their own, our careers are over and our short time on this earth is coming to a close and we have failed to act and seize many of the opportunities available to us. Seize the moment TeddyAs the Captain of your life, you have the responsibility to LEAD yourself where you want to go. I don’t believe you need to have followers to be a leader. Start with leading yourself. The word “leader” is derived from Greek and Latin words which mean “to act”. Leadership is not about title or rank, it is about the ability to act and “impact”. Make a positive impact on every person you meet, in every game you play, with every job you undertake! Taking charge and leading your life takes courage. Think of your life to come as Louis and Clark might have approached the vast uncharted Louisiana Territory. We have many choices: We can stay safely in “St. Louis” and enjoy vicariously the adventures that lie beyond the horizon; we can venture out, but stick to the easy trails; However, if we want real adventure, if we want to make a real impact, we must do with our life’s opportunities what Lewis and Clark did in the Louisiana Territory-get off the beaten path and seize new opportunities! It is time to leave complacency and comfort zones behind. It is time enjoy the moments of your life right now. It is time to make a positive impact. It is time to act and seize the moment and make life extraordinary!!

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