Integrity: Stop, Drop and Roll!

How do we safely and effectively reconcile when we act without integrity? This is a difficult question to answer. Popular theory is that a positive attitude thrives on a bad memory. Meaning we can be more optimistic about our future when we can forget the bad choices we made in our past. This is certainly true to a certain extent. When I think about times I acted in a manner that wasn’t congruent with my core values it tends to knock the wind out of my sails. However, I think a better theory is that a positive attitude thrives when we don’t dwell on our bad memories.

But that is all in the past. Let’s deal with what we do have control over – bad choices we make today. The next time you make a mistake and your behavior does not line up with your core values…

STOP – Recognize it when it happens and choose to deal with it now.

DROP – Drop your pride and say I’m sorry if it is an interpersonal situation or drop that habit if it is an intrapersonal situation.

ROLL – After you have sought out reconciliation, move on! My good friend and associate Kelly Barnes says that we must seek to be the BEST; Better Every Single Time. Just seek to be better next time.

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General: Be a Leader-in-Gear!

Are you a Leader-In-Waiting or Leader-In-Gear?

A leader-in-waiting is in.
A leader-in-gear is involved!

A leader-in-waiting seeks comfort.
A leader-in-gear seeks challenges!

A leader-in-waiting says I am the best I will ever be.
A leader-in-gear says we can be better let’s go there together.

A leader-in-waiting has dreams in his head.
A leader-in-gear has goals in her pocket!

A leader-in-waiting wants to be a leader.
A leader-in-gear has decided to be a leader!

A leader-in-waiting ends up somewhere.
A leader-in-gear ends up somewhere on purpose!

A leader-in-waiting doesn’t want to start.
A leader-in-gear doesn’t want to quit!

A leader-in-waiting thinks about self.
A leader-in-gear thinks about others!

A leader-in-waiting wishes and hopes.
A leader-in-gear wishes and hopes and then does!

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Innovative: Every Friday at Hasbro

The Wall Street Journal today has an article about a creativity meeting that happens every Friday at lunch at Hasbro corporate in Massachusetts. The attendees are a combination of game designers, marketers, managers, etc. The purpose of the luncheon is to just play games. Of course one of the deliverables from the play time is ideas for new games or ways to update/revise classics. This is a great example of organized innovation. And even if nothing world changing comes out of it, what a great way to reward the people who make your organization what it is!

So, your task is to make time for innovative dialogue to happen within your organization. Whether you are chatting around a whiteboard or a game board, you are setting yourself up for some potentially great ideas to develop!

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Masterful Communication: Rhett's Speaking Blog

Since 15% of my training time is spent just doing presentation coaching with corporate and student leaders, I thought it valuable to start up a blog just focused on helping people give better presentations. Subscribe to it, read it, learn from it and speak better...

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Masterful Communication: Filtering and Indexing

Fifty years ago, access to information was king (it was mostly kept in universities and libraries). Ten years ago, the information itself was king (access was digitally pushed/pulled into every household). Today, the ability to filter (exposing yourself to only the information you need or desire) and the ability to index (the physical, digital and intellectual act of organizing information) share the throne.

Your leadership leverage is determined by your ability to gain clarity and then transfer that clarity to others. To get better at that, get better at filtering and indexing.

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Vision: A 12-Year Inspiration

The next time you doubt your ability to create the future you want, watch this clip to remind you of the immaculate capabilities of the human design (and then try not to cry when you realize, like me, that you will never be as talented as this girl...)

A 12-Year Inspiration

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Skill Assessment: Train Your People!

The PLI Essential of Skill Assessment is defined as the ability to act upon a clear understanding of your and your organization's core strengths and challenges. Basically, this means knowing and doing what you are great at. There are a few reasons why this simple dynamic of high performers does not happen regularly in most organizations...

  1. Most people have never identified their core strength.
  2. Most people don't really care or don't see why they should identify their core strength. Give me a job. Pay me. Let me go home.
  3. It is definitely an art form for organizations to be able to match up their talent pool, with qualified applications and their job openings. The companies who do this effectively have invested a large amount of time getting this one thing right - the hiring and placement and training of staff.

However, even when people are placed in positions where they can engage their core strength, they still must be trained on a regular basis - especially when something changes. Here are two examples that happened to me TODAY!

Wal-Mart - The local Wal-Mart has recently changed their store layout and it is hilarious watching the customers (like me) find things now. However, it is FRUSTRATING to no end to watch the Wal-Mart Associates walk around lost. What a great opportunity to exceed expectations by investing less than an hour (which is probably all it would take per group) and have your people up to speed on the new layout. Or at the least, print out a schematic that they could keep in their back pockets when asked a question. It reminds of the time last October when we walked into a brand new Target in Colorado one hour after it opened. The Target staffers were absolutely clueless. But the store did spend a fortune on a magician, a juggler, free food, a huge outdoor banner. Unfortunately, none of the staffers knew where I could purchase a magic kit, some balls, crackers or duct tape.

Dillards - My wife, daughters and I visited Dillards today to get some shoes for the little ones. The store installed new cash registers over the weekend and it literally took three associates, two customer service folks, two manuals and twenty minutes to figure out how to run my debit card as a credit card. Their excuses were plentiful, but none of them helpful. (Turns out the button they were told to push - the "slash" button - was supposed to be the backslash, not the forward slash button. What do you think the chances are none of those five people wrote that little gem down for the next shift?)

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Integrity: The Fujita Scale for Trust

We were discussing the PLI Essential of Integrity today and we developed a Trust Scale. Every effective leader understands and uses trust power to positively influence others. This trust scale doesn't speak to the importance of trust - it is always important. This scale helps us examine and conceptualize the impact of trust when it is lost. The Fujita Scale is how they rate the wind speed and thus the destructive force of tornadoes. F1 - lowest speeds/limited damage. F5 - highest speeds/dog is in the next state. The Trust Scale is rated from T1 - impact of trust loss is low to T5 - you might as well physically be in the barn pictured here.

When you lose trust with someone, the way you can rate the impact is based on your present shared interests and on the level of connections that person has that you have vested interests in. So, if I lose trust with a stranger in Portland because I didn't let them have that cab, that is a T1. However, if I lose trust with my wife or with a key client that is heavily connected in my niche market, that is a T5.

The primary reason for rating the lost trust is to know what to do next. If you just had a T1 come through your life, apologize and move on. If a T5 blows you to New Zealand, you have some serious damage control to do.

However, there are two secrets that the most effective and influential leaders know and leverage.

  1. Someone might be a T1 today, but a T5 tomorrow. That is why the maintaining of trust across all levels of relationships is vital to a leader's ability to grow and strengthen their personal influence.
  2. Trust has a cumulative effect. A year's worth of T1's can have a very destructive force. And in terms of my preference, I would rather work with someone who causes one F5 in our relationship, learns from it and regains my trust than someone who continually throws F1's my way. The reason for this is that I judge people's performance based on what they do habitually, not on what they do one or two times.

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General: Understanding the Pitfalls of Missing Links

[Click on the image to view a larger version. Print the larger version for best read.]

The Personal Leadership Insight Blog is built around our ten PLI Essentials. As you peruse through the posts, you will find each post discusses one of the ten. For deeper study into each Essential, click on an Essential in the PLI Tags list in the right-hand sidebar.

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Innovative: Blogging Basics

The PLI Essential of Innovativeness is defined as creatively adding value. As the VP of Membership for the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Speakers Association, my job is to figure out how to add value to being a member of our chapter and to coordinate the process of signing up. At our February monthly meeting tomorrow, I am presenting the Power Idea. The Power Idea will be a 7-minute piece on blogging and the benefits for speakers. Click here to view the PDF, here for the PowerPoint and go to these pages for a plethora of blogging tips...

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Fostering Relationships: Kudos to Some Cool Kids

Just wanted to foster some relationships with my student helpers at the Adair High School FFA/FCCLA Leadership Symposium yesterday (that wasn't the name, but it should have been)!

Dani - Thanks for being us at birth and for not making us change your diaper...
Baja - Sorry you had to be on the other end of our life and good luck with your Locks o' Love...
Heath - You actually make a better window (of opportunity) than you do a wall...
Will - Hope your ego isn't too big today and if you ever need any extra cash you could probably sell your knuckles to Chuck Norris...
Sam - Thanks for being a good sport and please don't send your Cousin Vinny to break my legs...
Alex - You were a perfect chaperone - you have a sweet future in hosting...
The Ag Mechanics Guys - Thanks for serving on the Security and Seating Committee... your commitment to safety and human positioning will not soon be forgotten...

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Innovative: Ask the Hard Questions

I traveled to a small town in Oklahoma today called Adair to encourage about 150 high school students. Thanks to the "DeLozier twins" for not only inviting me to speak, but also for creating a phenominal leadership development environment within your school and your student organizations (FCCLA and FFA). The message today was...

  1. Make the most of the opportunities in front of you
  2. Choose wisely what you get excited about
  3. Aim high in life because you will get what you shoot for
  4. They can get everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want.

A bonus of today was that I had a travel companion (most of my trips are solo). My travel partner was a client of mine that is passionate about helping students grow and develop into postive, productive leaders. His current position allows him to make an impact, but he sought my help and advice in creating new opportunities within his organization for student development. They have good programs now, but they could have great programs if someone takes the lead and starts to ask the hard questions. Why aren't we seeking out more funding? Why do we have people in the wrong positions where they aren't given the chance to use their strengths? Why are we facing the same problems today that we faced 10 years ago?

Innovation in an organization cannot happen until people start seeking out the answers to tough questions. Once that one hurdle is overcome, many other things can fall into place.

So, what questions do you and your peers need to be asking today to take things to the next level? Engage in dialogue... check your egos and baggage at the door... create some cool!

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Goal Processing: 2007 Day 45

I read about 15 blogs religously. Kevin Eikenberry's blog is one of them. His insight and unique take on life and leadership issues are the primary reasons why. For those of you working on your PLI Essential of Goal Processing, Kevin has a few very important questions for you today. Read them here.

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General: Ten Mission Critical Traits of a Leader

The Personal Leadership Insight curriculum is structured into ten PLI Essentials: Vision, Integrity, Innovative, Wise Judgment, Service Minded, Goal Processing, Emotional Maturity, Skill Assessment, Fostering Relationships, and Masterful Communication.

When we set down to figure out what makes great leaders great, we knew it would be almost historically and statistically impossible to shave that list down a workable/teachable number. However, we did our best (and recruited the help of our network of hundreds of peers, mentors, friends, family members, random people standing in line at the post office, etc.) to create an inclusive list of the general development and skill related areas that effective leaders must work on. Today we look at the PLI Essentials within the context of their connection to a specific mission critical trait...

Vision - Extraordinary leaders see opportunities... average leaders see threats.

Integrity - Extraordinary leaders admit mistakes... average leaders admit nothing.

Innovative - Extraordinary leaders discuss solutions... average leaders discuss problems.

Wise Judgment - Extraordinary leaders ask for help... average leaders make isolated decisions.

Service Minded - Extraordinary leaders seek to be significant... average leaders seek to be successful.

Goal Processing - Extraordinary leaders act on purpose... average leaders act accidentally.

Skill Assessment - Extraordinary leaders leverage their strengths... average leaders defend their weaknesses.

Emotional Maturity - Extraordinary leaders think then do... average leaders do then think.

Fostering Relationships - Extraordinary leaders put relationships before results... average leaders put results before relationships.

Masterful Communication - Extraordinary leaders listen for the sake of others... average leaders listen for the sake of self.

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Masterful Communication: Marshall Goldsmith

I asked at a banking managers conference last week what they felt was the most pressing leadership/management issue they were facing in their banks. The top answer was communication issues. And specifically communication issues when dealing with growth. How do we get new people to speak our language? How do we get the veterans to upgrade their language and vision to the industry's new standards? How do we get people to communicate efficiently across the new size of our corporate landscape?

These are all valid and complicated concerns. I have many thoughts on where to start, but for a more comprehensive look at how to improve corporate communication (which is basically interpersonal communication) I wanted to turn you on to the most recent addition to my leadership library, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. I have been reading and learning from Marshall Goldsmith for a number of years. He used to write the column at the back of Fast Company (as did Seth Godin). If you are experiencing tremendous success, you need to digest this book. If you don't think you need to read this book, you need to read this book.

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Fostering Relationships: The Power of Empathy

A few weeks ago my wife went to the doctor's office for her final visit before having our second daughter last week. The doctor and nurses, Dr. Glass in Edmond, Oklahoma, finished up their examination and was ready to send my wife on her way. They concluded that she was ready to have the baby, but that the soonest she could get into the hospital was still a few days out. My wife's body language said that she was dissapointed by this. She was already a few days past due and was obviously ready to have the baby that moment. The nurses read my wife's body language and found her a spot at another hospital.

As it turned out, she had our second little girl at the first hospital on the later date. However, the nurses' excellent empathy and attention to detail put Ashley's mind at ease and reinforced our belief that Dr. Glass and his staff are not only excellent at their technical skills, but also at their soft skills! Thanks again, team!

It is amazing how simply businesses and organizations could improve their bottom-line if they only spent time improving their employees' people skills.

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Integrity: Coach, I Weigh 160

You have more power in you than you know.

Invest six short minutes and watch this video clip of someone tapping into their full power.

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Innovative: Exceed Expectations

Last week I presented a one-hour "fluff" program for a group of bank managers. Literally, the client's entire expectation of me was to get the students (it was a one-week banking school) to know each other and to start the school off with some fun and interaction. Since almost 98.6% of my keynotes and workshops are fun and interactive, this was not a very difficult expectation to exceed. However, my expectation for myself was to exceed it by providing the group valuable leadership insights both at the program and afterwards via this blog.

This act in and of itself is an example of how to be innovative in the business environ. Take what is expected of you and push outside the envelope. When you force yourself and your team to do that habitually, you will in turn be creative habitually.

Click here for a short, but powerful PDF on creating a corporate environment for innovation...

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Fostering Relationships: The Conversation House

Conversation is a lost art. Particularly holding a conversation with a stranger. If you struggle with this, remember this visual tool for accessing seven discussion points...

  1. Think of a house (Where are you from?)

  2. Think of a skier on the roof (What are your hobbies?)

  3. Image a graduation cap on the skier (Tell me about your education.)

  4. There is a briefcase on one ski pole (What about your career/job?)

  5. It is a sunny day (Weather)

  6. There is a family standing in the lawn (Tell me about your family.)

  7. There is a road leading to the horizon (What are your future plans?)

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Masterful Communication: Add Variety to Your Presentation

This video demonstrates how a professor in Kansas teaches thousands of us to communicate a little differently. How can you switch up your next presentation and say it or show it differently?

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Masterful Communication: Active Listening

Many times the most important thing we can give others is our attention. It's called Active Listening. Follow this formula to remain OPEN to others...

O - Open body language (responsiveness)

P - Paraphrasing (repeat their words back to them using your words)

E - Eye contact (we listen with our eyes, not our ears)

N - Not judging (remove as many predetermined perception filters as you can)

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Teaching PLI: PLI Essentials Primer

I had the cool opportunity to present back at my alma mater tonight, Oklahoma State University. I only had 20 minutes at a banquet so I couldn't get through as much content as I wanted to, but the following is what I would have said if I had a full 60-minutes.

If you are new to the PLI Blog, this will also serve as a primer for the structure of Personal Leadership Insight - the ten PLI Essentials...

[The following is structured like this... PLI Essential -> Why your team needs it from you -> Small piece of advice on how to improve your effectiveness in that Essential area.]

  • Vision... Clarity... Examine your morning routine
  • Integrity... Inspiration... Be Honest
  • Innovative... Have a Voice... Have a mechanism to capture ideas
  • Wise Judgment... Authenticity... Stay in contact and in spirit with a mentor
  • Service Minded... Appreciation... Do something for someone that they can't do on their own
  • Goal Processing... Final Scores... If you can do something in under 2 minutes, take care of it now!
  • Skill Assessemnt... Placement... Hire people for their strengths, not their experience.
  • Emotional Maturty... Optimism... Practice Intelligent Optimism - Recognize challenges, work on solutions. Understand weaknesses, capitalize on strengths. Have many reasons to complain, simply choose not to.
  • Fostering Relationships... Belonging... Nurture all three layers of your relationships. Layer 1 is your family and friends. Layer 2 is your peers and casual acquaintances. Layer 3 is people who you know of, but who don't know you.
  • Masterful Communication... Clarity... Actively listen to others and give them the gift of your attention.
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Skill Assessment: Building People, not Ships

The PLI Essential of Skill Assessment is not only about understanding and developing your own skills, for leaders it is also about understanding and developing the skills of others. A friend of mine, Jack Myrick, understands how to do this effectively. A few years ago he was a regional supervisor for 6 Sonic Drive-In stores. Everything was going smooth, but in a stretch of about 90 days things tanked. His best employees left and his remaining crew were undermotivated and underperforming. He was working 100 hour weeks and Jack knew something had to change.

So, he sat down and put 5 leadership principles on index cards and worked hard to fulfill their calling every day with his people. Within 6 months, his stores were setting records for sales. Feeling the need to share what he experienced, Jack wrote a leadership parable explaining the 5 leadership principles and the effect they can have on people.

His parable is called Shipbuilder. It is only 112 short pages and is a quick and powerful read! I won't give the 5 parables away, but my favorite line from the book is that the secret to great shipbuilding is to recognize that, as a leader, your job is not to build ships, but to build people!

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Goal Processing: Are You Stretching Yourself?

This guy didn't get from the chair where he set his goal of climbing K2 to the side of the hill without stretching himself, literally and metaphorically...

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Emotional Maturity: What is Your Motivation?

This blog is about how to use your leadership talents in a meaningful way. In today's cynical world, the most effective leaders strengthen their emotional maturity by placing authentic methods of personal motivation in their life. I was blessed with number three yesterday!!!!!!!

UNBELIEVABLE: I read an article last month that highlighted the results of a research project on happiness. Part of the project was studying whether having children increased or decreased parental happiness. The research results stated that the majority of parents reported a decrease in happiness after having children. I feel personally blessed to be in a situation where I can not even fathom how that can be true. Even though I am fully aware that the reasons are out there, I am not even going to try to articulate how or why those parents came to be in that situation. I'm just going to say this...

Our number one most important leadership efforts reside within our family structure, no matter our professional or personal position in life. Do things right there first and everywhere else second.

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Fostering Relationships: Your Meaningful 20

The next time you have some reflection time, grab a sheet of paper and write down the first people that come to mind…

Write down your five favorite historical figures.
Write down your five closest family members.
Write down your five closest friends.
Write down the five people you most admire (that are not on the previous lists).

Leaders who are great at fostering relationships spend dedicated time serving, learning from and connecting with a key set of people. You can now call this list your Meaningful 20. After you create your list, invest time in talking with, listening to, or learning from your Meaningful 20!

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