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Leaders Are Reader

With such a packed schedule of speaking engagements, book signings, family functions, and coaching sessions, it can be hard to find time to sit down and get lost in a good book. But every time I intentionally set time aside to read, I find myself feeling more creative, inspired, and motivated. Some of our favorite self-improvement books are:

  1. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
  2. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  3. The Power of Now by Eckhart Toole

Of course, if you’re looking for a dynamic book about leadership, mentorship, and next-level success, I know a good one.

Sweat It Out

This month, Antionette and I are celebrating all of the hard things our bodies can do. Instead of looking at fitness as something we have to do, we look at it as something we get to do. We both feel better when we put time in our day for exercise and encourage each other to say no to the sugary snacks and late-night munchies. We know that when we work out consistently, we feel better, we look better, and we are better equipped to serve other people. Having her hold me accountable is what gets me up out of bed and into the gym each morning. We remind each other that healthy and active lifestyles are just one good decision at a time. 

Facing Fears

At the beginning of the month, Antionette and I both wrote down a fear and posted it on the bathroom mirror. We have to look at it every morning and be reminded that we have some obstacles to overcome. Facing our fears is one of the most significant ways to improve our confidence and self-esteem. It stretches us and challenges us, and requires us to be vulnerable. The first step is saying, “this is what I’m afraid of, and this is what I’m going to do about it.” There is power in this vulnerability and is foundational in being the best version of you. 

Every week in September, we’ll discuss a few more ways we are working towards self-improvement and offer practical ideas for you to do the same.

My challenges for you this week:

  1. Start reading a self-improvement book (take a suggestion from our reading list) 
  2. Write down a fear that you currently have and stick it to your bathroom mirror. 
  3. Work on DOING IT NOW!

Swim! is officially out and entrepreneurs, public speakers, business leaders, and industry leaders are already eager to learn the principles they’ll learn in this book and apply it to their teams and organizations. Here are 3 things I want you to take away from this book when you get your copy:

Becoming a shark is a life-long process

I love the part in the book when Scotty asks his mentor if he’s finally adopted a shark mindset, and is surprised and a little offended when Drew tells him no. Drew explains that although he now knows and understands The Sacred Six, he’s going to spend the rest of his life practicing them and incorporating them into every decision he makes. Scotty was a little disappointed in this answer, but it is a good reminder that we are always a work in progress. We are always learning, growing, and getting better. There is always more to learn, and if we ever get to the point where we think we’ve “made it,” and stop our journey to self-improvement, we are doing ourselves and those around us a significant disservice. 

“Facing The Fear Is Faster”

This is something Scotty learns early on in the book. He finds himself in the middle of the woods, as it is getting dark, and standing at a crossroads. Through a series of quick decisions, he learns that sometimes just facing the fear is faster. Just doing the thing you’re scared of is so much faster than all of the things you will do to try to avoid it. He could have taken a well-lit, safer path to get to his destination, but it would have taken twice as long. He went the way that made him nervous and uncomfortable and found himself at his destination much sooner than he thought. “Facing the fear is faster” is a motto he uses throughout his life to remind himself of the power of stepping out of his comfort zone.

“There’s hope for the parasite.”

This is a line Paul and Scotty say a few times during their adventure out on the boat. As they dive into the characteristics of a shark, a suckerfish, and a parasite, they begin to realize that everyone can have parasitic tendencies. There are times, in our personal lives and our careers, that we can take more than we give. There are times we focus on our own best interests instead of the interests of others. But just because we make these choices, it does not define us. There is hope for us when we act in a self-serving way, and the faster we identify this behavior and thought process, the sooner we can change and work towards adopting a shark mindset instead. 

I’m excited to hear what you think about the book and the lines or chapters that make an impact on you! 

My challenge for you this week: 

  1. Order Swim! if you haven’t already
  2. One morning this week, instead of scrolling social media when you wake up, listen to this short YouTube video and watch how it dramatically shifts your mindset and in turn, the rest of your day. 

 

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How are you leading this week? What practices are you putting into place to make sure your team understands that they are doing work that matters? Your employees are much more likely to work hard, stay late, come early, and go above and beyond if they feel valued and appreciated. As their leader, are you influencing and encouraging them to use their gifts and talents? Or are you simply enforcing rules and deadlines without a personal connection?

A boss manages their employees, while a leader inspires their employees to think creatively, to give feedback, create and innovate and dream. A boss will tell you what to do, a leader will lead by example and show you how to do it. Bosses are focused on your output and basic productivity, leaders are focused on making you feel appreciate and successful. Bosses focus on the right now, while leaders focus on what is right.

This week, ask yourself this question: “Would I want to work for me?” Think critically about the way you encourage and inspire your team. Think carefully about the personal connections you’ve made with your employees and how you could strengthen them. Do you know their birthdays, their spouse’s name, or where they graduated from? The more you invest in the relationships with your employees, the more they will invest in their job.

This week, challenge yourself to learn one new fact about five people in your company. Ask questions, listen, and start showing your team that you care about them as people. Then, watch as company morale improves, productivity improves, and you grow as a visionary leader.

A strong leader is constantly self-reflecting and finding new ways to lead with purpose. How are you leading this week?

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The old style of leadership is for the king/queen to sit on his/her throne and bark out orders. Anyone that doesn’t comply—off with your head. Sounds like an episode of Games of Thrones, right? But leaders are still leading the same way: figuratively beheading people from a big chair every day. In this dog-eat-dog world, are you behaving like a dog?

The real question is this: do you still subscribe to this archaic form of leadership? If so, no wonder you have low levels of engagement, high turnover, and trust issues on your team. Nobody wants to be beheaded at the town square. Step into the modern day, and lead with a different focus. Smart leaders remove the layers from their organizations and buy in to modern leadership, where your focus will qualify or disqualify you. Do you focus on your people serving you or do you focus on serving your people? Wouldn’t you rather have high engagement, accountability, trust, effective teamwork, and employees who take pride in your company and culture? You can have all this by simply having the right focus. You should serve your most valuable commodity: your workforce. Nothing is more important than that. You must take care of your internal customers first if you want to wow your external customers.

Leaders, your biggest challenge is attracting, developing, and retaining top talent. Do you focus on serving or being served? I think we know the answer to this open-book test. You can stay on your throne and be average, or you can step down to earth and soar as a servant leader.

One of my favorite sayings is: “I’ll hear what you say, but I’ll trust what you do.” I think this is absolutely brilliant. You should use it when you want to feel real smart and savvy as a leader. I first heard it used by college football coach Jerry Kill at the University of Minnesota when he was giving a motivational talk to a room full of business leaders. He was explaining how he communicates and relates to his players. In other words, you can talk all you want about what you are about to do, what you intend to do, and what you promise to do. However, the only way to truly evaluate you as a player and a person is by watching what you actually do. How you operate tells the story about who you really are.

As you know, I am always thinking. This statement is normally used by a leader talking to a subordinate. They’re saying that they’re watching you and will let you know how you’re doing. If I don’t like something you are doing or how you are doing it, I will be sure to stop you dead in your tracks to correct you. Leaders have such a nice seat up on the mountain where everyone comes and kisses our pinky rings and we give them the lay of the land. We make the decisions and everyone waits for us to bark orders. We even get to go home and talk about them to whoever wants to listen. “My office manager just doesn’t get it. My sales manager needs to be more organized. My legal department is too technical.” Blah, blah, blah.

Let’s think about this statement again: “I’ll hear what you say, but I’ll trust what you do.” Can’t your subordinates use that toward you as well? One thing I want to impress upon any leader is that everyone is watching you with a critical eye all of the time. They will hear what you say, but they will trust what you do. Everyone you lead wants to know if you practice what you preach, so here are a few questions for you to make sure you are not the subject of pillow talk. Think about it: we have all had an idiot for a boss, right? Are you someone’s boss right now? If the answer is yes, this means you could be someone’s idiot. Here is what leaders need to be mindful of.

1.  Integrity- Employees and the people you lead pick up on your heart every time you speak. Do you do the right thing at all times? If you cut corners and cheat, you are sending a message to everyone you lead that it is ok to cheat and be unethical.

 2.  Work ethic- Are you working as hard as you expect others to work? Do you crack the whip and then sit back and drink lemonade all day? Make sure you preach hard work and also model hard work.

3.  Commit to excellence- Is average okay? If you want to build a culture of excellence, make sure you model e.xcellence. If average is okay for you, it will be okay for everyone.

4.  Look like the leader- Everyone you lead needs to have confidence in you as a leader if you want them to follow you. It helps for you to look the part to pass the eyeball test. Most people never think about personal appearance, but it is real. Studies show that the better you look and dress, the more money you make.

Why should you do all of this? Because everyone is watching you.

A July 2015 article in Business Insider studied over 500 millionaires, and it states that the one character trait all millionaires have in common is that they are decisive. They can make decisions quickly and stick to them once they are made. You can’t argue the facts, which means that your days of waffling are officially over (if you want to play with the big boys). Make decisions and move on. Being decisive does not mean being hasty; being decisive means knowing when you enough information, making the decision, and moving on. How long do you agonize over decisions?

Why is being decisive so important? Being successful requires all of us to be able to make good decisions. You can’t be successful and make a bunch of dumb decisions. I’m sure every millionaire you know has failed at some point, but they kept trying. Being decisive is not always about getting it right, it’s about your ability to make a call and move on it. We live in a world where people have paralysis by analysis. Average performers lament decisions so long that they literally make a decision through inactivity alone. “I need to do this. I should do that.” We hear people say these things all the time, which is exactly why they aren’t in the conversation. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening, so make sure you end up on the right side of the tracks. Here are a few keys to being decisive.

1. Have a clear vision- Successful people are successful because they have clarity about who they are and what they do, so making important decisions can be relatively simple. A clear vision can keep you from doing things that don’t line up with what you do already. A good idea can’t distract a focused professional. It’s easy to be decisive. Successful people are protected from good ideas, which have distracted more people than sex, drugs, or alcohol. A millionaire may love an idea and still say no because they stay in their lane and stick to their vision.

2. Belief system- A strong belief system allows you to be more decisive. What do you believe? If you’re a real estate developer who believes in only buying prime real estate based on your belief system, this allows you to be decisive on investment opportunities. If you love a property but not the location, you can decisively say no because of your belief system. You won’t talk yourself into it.

3. Facts vs. Emotions- Success is not personal. I have seen so many well meaning and intelligent professionals struggle with decision-making because they are led by their emotions instead of facts. In order to be decisive, you can’t be emotional. If you stick to the facts and leave your emotions at home, you can and will become more decisive and make better decisions.


 

As we delve deeper into teamwork and you try to figure out your team, you need to figure out you. As a leader, you are the nucleus of your team, which means you must figure yourself out before you can build a high-performing team. I just got off the phone with a previous client who was looking to bring me back for an encore presentation. He said, “Walter, we heard your keynote. Do you have a new program?” He was about to retire from leading this organization for over 30 years. I told him absolutely! We have a brand new teamwork program that is taking the business world by storm. I explained each position to him: the innovator innovates, the implementer implements, the instigator instigates, the improvers improve, and the executors execute. He told me that was perfect for his group. I noticed a slight shift in his tone as he took on a melancholy mode that I could feel over the phone.

I couldn’t read what was wrong. Maybe he didn’t think our new teamwork framework was as good as I did, but he said he thought it was brilliant. As I pondered why his mood had shifted, he finally confessed. “I have been here for 30 years, and I just realized that I am an innovator, but my job required me to be an implementer. For 30 years, I have played out of position. That explains why I liked my job but never loved it.”

When we talk about employee engagement, job satisfaction, attrition, productivity, and all of the buzzwords that HR loves to throw around, it all boils down to your ability as leader to get your people in the right places so their innate attributes work in the context of their job. If you have someone playing out of position, you will never see that person at their best. I didn’t have to diagnose my retiring client because he came to his own conclusion. All I did was give him the context to understand how we are all wired and how critical our innate attributes are to fulfillment and productivity. I wonder if he will hold off retirement to allow his natural gift of innovation to operate for a few years. I am sure he will much more engaged and productive. The question for you is simple. Are you a natural innovator? Implementer? Instigator? Improver? Executor? You may be able to do a few well, but which one is primary? Once you understand yourself, the next job you have is to fill the other leadership positions with professionals that complement you.


Click the button below to receive a complimentary iTeam Audio Download where I teach you how to:

    • Build trust and respect between team members.
    • Collaborate and best use of each team member’s talents.
    • Ignite mutual understanding and respect.
    • Delegate tasks in a way that magnifies strength.
    • Build micro-teams and how to fix dysfunctional teams.
    • Boost employee engagement and job satisfaction.

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How can a leader build a winning team without being an expert on teamwork? Impossible! Any leadership training that doesn’t focus on teamwork strategy is incomplete. How did the business world miss this? How many leadership trainings have you experienced that never laid out a teamwork strategy you can employ? If you are leading a team right now, what is your current teamwork strategy? Has anyone ever taught you a teamwork strategy or concept you can employ to build a productive team, repair a broken team, or improve upon your existing team? The word leader implies you are in charge of a group of people focused on a common goal. Once this group of people is assembled, you are officially a team—profits and market share and cash flow are dependent on how well your team works. You can’t separate leadership from teamwork because they go hand in hand.

I get it. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. But now you know, so you better have a teamwork strategy. Even if you don’t buy into our strategy on teamwork, please find one and become an expert on it. It will be very profitable for you to become an expert on teamwork. That’s how CEOs and entrepreneurs make money and build successful companies consistently: they simply build a team based on a proven teamwork model. This is also how some talented business leaders fail. I am sure you have a great product, but you still need to know how to build a team to get it to market, provide service, and continue to innovate. I know you are very smart and have a great business idea, but you still need a team to make it happen. If success is truly a team sport, you must learn everything there is to know about teamwork. Most successful business leaders either don’t know how to articulate what they know to others or refuse to share their secret with us because they would lose their value.

How does a successful coach like Phil Jackson, who has won eleven championships, always seem to get it right? The players changed, but he kept the model the same. Being a great leader in business and sports requires you to become a teamwork guru. Great leaders can always find the right mix of talent, abilities, and personalities and combine them perfectly into a cohesive and productive unit. We have created a teamwork model that will empower you to know what all the successful leaders know and failed to tell you. How much would it be worth to you if you had a successful teamwork formula for your leadership career? It is like the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken or the special sauce on a Big Mac.

Phil Jackson is known as a Zen master as a coach, but it’s not mystic—he had a formula that worked. Successful sports and business leaders can write their own checks and instantly turn their organizations into winners, and so can you.

Ever heard of Nick Saban? He wins big because he knows how to build teams. The same can be said for Lee Iacocca (GM), Patrick Doyle (Dominos), Richard Anderson (Delta), or any successful leader in business. In essence, that’s what leadership is: leading a group of people to achieve a common goal. You can’t separate leadership from teamwork. Here is our sneak preview of our team strategy.

Every team has the right balance of innovators, implementers, instigators, improvers, and a group of people that simply say “Iexecute.

We are off to a great start. There’s more to come. Stay tuned!