You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2009.

Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership always has great insight on leadership principles and makes them easy to understand.  He did it again with How to Create Motivating Work.

Here is Dan’s Top 10 list on How to Create a Positive Working environment:

1. Create motivating work.
2. Hire A players and get rid of C players.

3. Don’t micromanage – get out of the way.

4. Promote your team’s work.
5. Loosen up the rules and bureaucracy.

6. Don’t be a jerk.

7. Get personal.

8. Set a good example.

9. Encourage camaraderie during work hours.

10. Pay people for what they are worth.

One of the biggest challenges I have at work is how to motivate others without using money as the key driver.

Many businesses will put in bonus systems by doing certain things.  I am not saying you shouldn’t reward people.  I just think you should be a little more creative and spontaneous when rewarding people.

Don’t always just do it with money.  Do it by creating a great work environment with the list Dan gave us above.  If you create an environment like this the money for the employees and the revenue for the business will take care of themselves.   Just make sure when you have success you make sure to reward your employees in one form or another.

All of the list is harder to measure than sales and other numbers goals.  But if you find a way to work on these continually and try to measure them you will find the DNA and personality of your company.  With numbers you are just getting the height and weight of your company.  We all know that height and weight don’t tell the true story.  Find out what your company is really about.


Valeri Maltoni at Conversation Agent had this quote in an entry she wrote on kicking hind tail:

"The surest way to guarantee nothing interesting happens is to assume you know exactly how to do it." [Kathy Sierra]

Have you been around those people who think they know it all?  I don’t know about you but most of the successful leaders I know around (in terms of how I view success) don’t act like they know it all.

First let me give you the definition of how I view success:

  1. Left or is leaving a legacy: When this person moves on or passes away what they accomplished and did will keep going without skipping a beat.
  2. Invests in others: Along with leaving a legacy they were true teachers and trainers.  They kept giving toward others.
  3. Hire the Best: They aren’t afraid to hire smart people and get out of their way. 
  4. Give others the Credit: They don’t need the credit so they pass it on to everyone else.
  5. Stick to their Guns: They aren’t afraid to compromise on anything but their ethics and morals.  They never make short term decisions that affect character in the long term.


Successful leaders who I have met do not act like they know it all.  Most of them are actually more interested in me and what I know.  There is almost a humble, genuine, interest in how they approach people.

Selfish leaders are hoarders and Successful leaders are spreaders.  They give away things to others and in turn receive things ten fold.  They aren’t at all interested in always getting something for things they do.  They are interested in the betterment of everyone.

Stop assuming you know it all and listen to others and even ask for help.  You will never know it all and the more committed people involved the more you can accomplish.

You know what happens when you do assume: 

You make an ass out of you and me.

How do you decide when to delegate?  Why is it so hard to delegate?

Delegation is one of the hardest things to start doing.  But once you start it can be so easy and freeing to keep doing. 

My definition of when I need to delegate:

When someone can do a task 80% as effective as you can you need to look at delegating.

Many leaders will want people to do it 100% as effective.  If you wait for that you will never start delegating some of the things that are a time drain for you. 

Why can delegation be so powerful?

  1. It keeps you looking ahead: When you delegate it helps you to focus on the future.
  2. It frees you to do more productive things:  Yes, you probably can type faster than the other person but you also can sell more or look at strategy more effectively.  Which of these is going to give you the most return?
  3. It helps others:  When you let go of things and let others do them they start taking more ownership.
  4. Reduces Stress: With less things to do their is less to do and less to worry about.
  5. You can leave work on time: You don’t have to try to do more of everything in a day.  You can be more productive by doing less and being recharged.


Delegation is one of the biggest multipliers you can use to transform and take your business to the next level.  Are you willing to let others help with the journey?


Monica Enand of Zapproved wrote a great post on how to work more effectively and efficiently with others on Zen Habits.

  1. One Decision at a Time. Do not lump several decisions into one. Break them apart and isolate them so that the team can address them individually. This will narrow the focus of any objections raised so that the discussion is manageable and can be concluded quickly.
  2. Be Transparent. Hold discussions in the open, either in person or virtually. Successful organizations put decisions in the sunlight. Closed-door agreements can fuel speculation and inhibits the group’s ability to buy-in to the agreed upon direction.
  3. Give the Facts. Be proactive about gathering the required information in advance. Data-driven decisions go smoothly and avoid injecting emotion which will muddle the process. People need data, whether it’s research, budgets, timelines. Provide so they don’t have to come back and request it later.
  4. Minimize Participants. Include people on the decision that need to be there. If others have an interest, you can copy them but don’t invite them. Ask yourself if a person’s objection would stop the project. If not, then don’t include them.
  5. Subtract Words. Use the fewest words necessary to convey the proposal. Your team will absorb the scope, but extraneous details will dilute the message and might distract from your main objective.
  6. Be Clear What “Yes” Means. It sounds obvious, but when creating a proposal, create a proposal. Request in a crisp way and use actionable language. This is a common mistake. Add focus and formality as needed in the Subject line and in the message itself. Don’t say “let me know what you think” when you mean “do you approve this project.”
  7. Record the Decision. Seems simple but is hard to do, especially in email. There is a reason boards of directors keep minutes. People will take the decision seriously and will abide by it if they know it is saved in a place that is public. Think about a document or folder on an intranet or on the web where the agreement is recorded. Even if it is not referenced, the simple fact of know it exists will create peer pressure and accountability that is powerful.

I thought this list was awesome!  And summed up why decisions never really get made in a lot of organizations.  It is because we do not look at simplifying the process.  We don’t put a system such as this in place to help guide us and make it easier.  I especially thought the point that you need to minimize people there.  Only have the people at the meeting that need to be at the meeting.  Too many times you try to keep everyone happy by having everyone there.  In doing that you are way more unproductive.

Monica also said in the article:

Noted tech blogger Robert Scoble suggested last October that the number of emails required to get something done is equal to the number of people involved squared, i.e. eight people results in 64 emails.

Email is very nice to have but also can be one of the biggest time wasters if not used correctly.


Have you ever really thought about what the basis for your unhappiness is?  Why do you want that other car, the bigger house, that promotion?  What triggers those things in your mind?

What is the one thing if you took out of your life would lead you to less jealousy, more peace, less worrying, more love.

The answer is:


Think about it for a second.

What is at the root of most of your unhappiness?  I know for me at work when I compare myself to others and I don’t feel like they are pulling their weight anger comes out.

Comparison is the things advertisers thrive on.  They want people to buy nicer, newer, and better.  Along the way everyone around it gets in the game. 

Do you find that when one of your coworkers or friends buys something new or changes something it seems like everyone starts has that itch.  Why is that?  It is because most of them were content with what they had until they took into account what others were doing.

If you can harness the comparison game within yourself and within your company you will go a long ways toward a unified team. 

Don’t hear what I am not saying.  Comparison is not bad in and of itself.  But it can so easily be taken to the wrong extreme.

Which extreme does comparison take you to?

Does it make you better or does it make you bitter?

How can such a small part of your body cause so much trouble.  How can something as small as your tongue define your whole body so easily? 

We don’t view how we say things or what we say as serious as we should anymore.  We just flippantly say this and that and don’t realize the ramifications of what we say.  We give people a hard time, are sarcastic, or use rude tone and think it has no effect on others.  Just think for a second what these things do to you.

Your tongue gives people a glimpse of who you are but your actions define what is truly on the inside.

You as a leader need to be even more careful of what you say to anyone.  Why don’t you take a fast from being negative.  Before you say anything why don’t you ask yourself the question:

“Would I say this to that persons face?”

Where has our integrity and word gone?

  • Since when did we need to sign a contract for everything?
  • Since when did what we say no longer really mean anything?
  • Since when did we start talking more and listening less?

It is a lot easier to go with the flow and let your tongue run wild but it is much harder to tame the tongue. Beware of the tongue because it can do great damage.

An article on Frank Viola’s blog by Deborah Smith Pegues caught my attention and got me thinking about this.

Mike Michalowicz of Toilet Paper Entrepreneur wrote an article about 7 reasons why the recession is good.

Here they are:

1. Tough Times Help You Monitor Cash Flow Like A Hawk

2. Focus On Personal Friendships

3. Make better choices about spending money.

4. Experience Memorable but Simple Entertainment With Family

5. Forces You To Cut The “Fat” Out Of Your Life And Business

6. Tough Economies Force You To Innovate

7. Spend More Time At Home Eating Home Cooked Meals

Start viewing the recession for what good you can take from it.  Stop taking part in the recession thinking and start looking at ways it can help you.  If you can make it through this recession just think how lean and mean of a business you will be running when the economy is good.  Just think what your profits will look like.

A ton of companies out there have cut costs and saved a ton of money on expenses.  They are happier than pigs in slop.  I would be happy in the short term but I would be more upset that we weren’t very stewardly in how we ran our business in the long term.  All of that money we saved this year we could have been saving for years!

Don’t just think of the recession in business terms but also use it as a life lesson.  Those who don’t learn from past mistakes and failures are doomed to repeat them.

It is way easier to think bad thoughts and to let them keep flowing in your mind rather than thinking positive thoughts.  Especially when things are going wrong it is way easier to get on the negative bandwagon than to try go against the flow and think of something positive.

As a leader you need to step back and see these things happening and do things to correct them.  Stop pointing out the negative and start revealing all the positive around us.

Here is an quote I read in one of Kevin Eikenberry’s blogposts on being positive.

James Clavell’s novel Shogun
"To think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the
world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral down into ever increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one of the things that discipline – training – is about."

Kevin also talked about how enthusiasm, passion, and a positive approach are all contagious.  I could not agree with him more.

It is way easier to sit back and just say things are going to happen.  It is a lot harder to get up every day and stay positive.  You need to discipline yourself to stay positive.

Tricks to staying positive:

  1. Smile: It is amazing how this thing alone can transform you and those around you.
  2. Start Your Day off Right: Read something positive such as the bible or another book to get you grounded for the day.
  3. Flip Conversations: Once a conversation starts going negative flip it and say some positives.
  4. Take Time to Reflect: Debrief at the end of each day and go through the day and what happened.  Then figure out how to turn those positive.
  5. Realize your blessings: Look at how blessed you truly are.  Maybe your job isn’t fun, but at least you have one.  Maybe your kids are being naughty, at least yours are healthy.

Being a positive thinker and person in general is one of the hardest disciplines.  It is especially hard when you are tired or stressed.

Being a positive leader will set you and your company apart for years to come.

Why don’t more people stop complaining about things?  Why don’t they quit pointing out problems and start coming up with solutions? 

Do you want to know why?

Complaining is way easier than actually coming up with solutions.

Jon Gordon had a great story of people turning a negative into a positive at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Read about it here.

It is a great story of how the leader got everyone together to find a solution to the problem.  Instead of complaining about the problem at hand, which wouldn’t have done any good, they worked on a solution.  Everyone sacrificed a little bit for the good of the team.

How do people come to the solution mindset instead of the problem mindset.  It can be as simple as one person switching the conversation. It is really easy to get on the problem mindset.  But if you get one person who has the solution mindset it can be just as easy to turn it around.

Don’t be content talking about problems and making excuses.  Talk about Solutions and make the problems seem miniscule.

It is a lot easier to measure sales, ROI, and other things.  But the tough things to measure like your employee morale and customer satisfaction are the lifeblood of your business.  They are a lot harder to measure but are worth the time and effort to find them out.

What are the things your business measures? 

We had Reggie McNeal speak the other day in Orange City about how the church needs to have a different scorecard.  He talked on how the church measures people in church, how much money got taken in and other things.  He gave the story of how one church’s goal was that no one in their county went hungry.  Now that’s a goal to work for!

Instead of making a certain sales number your goal:

  • Why don’t you measure how many people you can make smile in a day. 
  • How many questions or problems over the phone you solve. 
  • Ask your employees what their goals are for the year both professionally and personally and see if they accomplish them. 

The best things to measure are the hardest. Numbers are easy to measure people are harder to measure.  So go out of your way to find out what things you need to measure that make the biggest difference.